2017 Volume 242 Issue 1 Pages 77-81
On March 11, 2011, a devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami caused serious damage to areas of the Pacific coast in Fukushima prefecture and prompted fears among the residents about a possible meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant reactors. As of 2017, over six years have passed since the Fukushima nuclear crisis and yet the full ramifications of the biological exposures to this accidental release of radioactive substances remain unclear. Furthermore, although several genetic studies have determined that the variation in radiation sensitivity among different individuals is wider than expected, personalized medical approaches for Fukushima victims have seemed to be insufficient. In this commentary, we discuss radiobiological issues arising from low-dose radiation exposure, from the cell-based to the population level. We also introduce the scientific utility of the Integrative Japanese Genome Variation Database (iJGVD), an online database released by the Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization, Tohoku University that covered the whole genome sequences of 2,049 healthy individuals in the northeastern part of Japan in 2016. Here we propose a personalized radiation risk assessment and medical approach, which considers the genetic variation of radiation sensitivity among individuals, for next-step developments in radiological protection.