ORISE Cytogenetic Biodosimetry Laboratory “gamifies” radiation dose estimation

Screen capture from ORISE Dicentric Chromosome Challenge game

October 29, 2020

The ORISE Cytogenetic Biodosimetry Laboratory (CBL) is the only federally funded facility with Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments certification in the United States that uses cytogenetic biodosimetry to assess absorbed radiation dose in exposed individuals.

ORISE cytogenetic researchers perform these assessments using a method called dicentric chromosome assay (DCA), a process for identifying and scoring abnormal chromosomes. DCA is widely considered to be the “gold standard” for quantifying DNA damage and for determining how much radiation exposure an individual has received.

Taking into account existing capabilities, the CBL can process approximately 100 blood samples per week. But, imagine how much the demand and urgency for such services would increase following a large-scale radiological or nuclear incident.

That was the scenario ORISE CBL Technical Director Adayabalam Balajee, Ph.D. imagined when he proposed creating a web‐based educational tool to train users in dicentric chromosome scoring. “The idea was to use this online training tool to create a pool of efficient scorers who, in times of need, could assist the CBL by scoring samples and thereby reducing turnaround time for dose estimation,” said Balajee.

The process of turning an activity or task into a game is often referred to as gamification, and the approach successfully applies game design elements to improve user engagement in a wide range of industries including healthcare, education, and retail. In this case, the ORISE Chromosome Challenge game applies crowdsourcing to scale-up the CBL’s ability to respond to mass-casualty incidents.

Play the Chromosome Challenge game

View the countries that have participated in the Chromosome Challenge Game!

Media Contacts

Pam Bonee
Director, Communications
Phone: 865.603.5142

Wendy West
Manager, Communications
Phone: 865.207.7953

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) asset that is dedicated to enabling critical scientific, research, and health initiatives of the department and its laboratory system by providing world class expertise in STEM workforce development, scientific and technical reviews, and the evaluation of radiation exposure and environmental contamination.

ORISE is managed by ORAU, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, for DOE’s Office of Science. The single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.osti.gov.