Keith Baverstock, PhD, a graduate of London University, led the Radiation Protection Programme at the World Health Organisation’s Regional Office for Europe from 1991 to 2003, initially at the European Centre for Environment and Health in Rome, Italy since its foundation in 1991. From 1998 to 2002 he set-up a dedicated project office in Helsinki for nuclear emergencies and public health and in 2002 he transferred to the WHO’s European Centre for Environment and Health located in Bonn where he was the Regional Advisor for Radiation and Public Health. He is currently a docent in the Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences of the University of Kuopio, Finland where he lectures and researches on the effects of ionising radiation.
The WHO’s radiation programme was instrumental in bringing to world attention the increase in thyroid cancer in Belarus, now attributed to the Chernobyl accident. In 2001 he was a member of a UN mission charged with making a situation analysis on the Chernobyl affected regions of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. The mission report “The human consequences of the Chernobyl accident: a strategy for recovery” was published by the UN in 2002.
Prior to 1991 Dr Baverstock was at the UK Medical Research Council’s Radiobiology Unit at Harwell, UK where he pursued a wide range of scientific research interests related to the public and occupational health aspects of exposure to ionising radiation. He managed and analysed the survey of UK radium luminisers, which has provided direct information on the effects of exposure to ionising radiation at low dose rates. He held a visiting research appointment at the Institute of Chemical and Physical Sciences, RIKEN, Wako-shi, Japan, working on the effects of heavy ion irradiation of DNA. During his tenure with the Medical Research Council Dr Baverstock served as secretary to, and served upon a number of committees charged with advising the Council on the biological bases of the effects of ionising radiation on human health. Also during this tenure Dr Baverstock served on the over-sight committee for the Nation-wide Radiological Survey of the Marshall Islands (the site of US atomic weapons testing) and was Chairman of the Scientific Management Team of the Rongelap Resettlement Project. He has also served on a US National Academy of Sciences committee to review the 1997 National Cancer Institute report on the health impact of exposure to I-131 from the weapons testing in Nevada.
From November 2003 to April 2005 he served on the UK Committee for Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM). His critical views of the management and conduct of the Committee, particularly in its failure to make proper use of science and its lack of adherence to the Code of Conduct in Public Life, resulted in his dismissal.
From 2007 to 2008 he was professor of health and ionising radiation in the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Kuopio. Currently he is a partner in the European commission funded ARCH project the objective of which is to develop a strategic research agenda for the health effects of the Chernobyl accident.
His current research interests are in the dynamical aspects of the process by which ionising radiation and other environmental agents cause genomic instability and cancer, the effects on human health of low doses of ionising radiation and the psychosocial aspects of exposure to ionising radiation.
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