Irradiation and Animal Core

The Irradiation and Animal Core (IAC) maintains and operates sources of ionizing radiation for use by researchers at UAMS. Services performed by the resource staff include training in the operation of the sources, advice to users on the design of experiments using radiation, scheduling use of the sources, operating the sources when necessary, dosimetry for new experimental setups, and maintenance and repair of the resources. The core is equipped with Cesium source irradiator (Mark 1, model 68A, Shepherd Inc.), Seifert Isovolt 320 X-ray generator, Small Animal Conformal Radiation Therapy Device (SACRTD), Shepherd Mark 1 Model 25 cesium source irradiator, L. Shepherd Model i45 cesium source irradiator and Faxitron cabinet X-raysystem. The low-dose-rate irradiators are used primarily to irradiate cell cultures at dose rates comparable to those used in tumor therapy with radioactive implants, but can deliver radiation at any rate below 2 Gy/hr and has also been used in studies of carcinogenesis from prolonged exposure to low-dose-rate radiation. The core also has the capability to deliver a broad range of dose rates for a variety of purposes, such as irradiation of cell suspensions, animal tumors or other partial-body irradiations at dose rates comparable to those used in external beam radiotherapy. The core recently obtained XStrahl Small Animal Radiation Research Platform (SARRP) with treatment planning software. Irradiation and Animal Core is directed by Dr Marjan Boerma and Dr Charles A. O’Brien.

Marjan Boerma, Ph.D. (Director; Irradiation and Animal Core)

Dr Boerma, is the director of Irradiation and Animal CoreDr. Boerma received her PhD from Leiden University in The Netherlands, one of the world’s premier radiation biology institutions. She has many years’ experience in irradiation techniques and in vivo experimental models. She is an internationally recognized expert in radiation-induced heart disease and has held grants from NIH and several private foundations, including the American Heart Association, Lance Armstrong Foundation, and American Cancer Society. In 2011, Dr. Boerma was honored with the Radiation Research Society’s Michael Fry Award, given to the most promising radiation biologist less than 10 years from receiving the terminal degree. Dr. Boerma has mentored more than 10 undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. She is closely involved in maintenance and use of the irradiators at UAMS. She maintains several rodent breeding colonies and serves on the UAMS IACUC. Dr. Boerma has an appointment at the affiliated Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, where many of the transgenic animal models are generated as part of the UAMS Transgenic Mouse Facility.

Charles A. O’Brien, Ph.D. (Co-Leader ; Irradiation and Animal Core)

Charles O’Brien, Ph.D., is a Professor and a CAVHS Research Scientist; and the director of theUAMS Transgenic Mouse Facility. He is a molecular biologist trained at Oklahoma and Yale Universities. He joined the Center in 1994 and his work focuses on the molecular control osteoclastogenesis and bone turnover in health and disease. Dr. O’Brien is the Director of theUAMS Transgenic Facility.

Core Services

Generation and phenotyping of transgenic animals

  • Discussion of options for transgenic animals
  • Assistance in preparation of DNA constructs
  • Communication with the UAMS Transgenic Mouse Core Facility to ensure that the proper transgenic animals are produced for the purpose of the project
  • Advice and technical assistance with regard to optimal breeding schemes and phenotyping of transgenic animals

Implementation of optimal breeding schemes

  • Assistance in setting up and maintaining breeding-colony schemes of newly generated and existing transgenic animal models
  • Assistance in genotyping and maintaining records of mice generated in breeding colonies

Animal use protocols

  • Assistance in animal use protocol preparation and annual reporting to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

Irradiation services

  • Maintenance of irradiators, dosimetry
  • Assistance in design and development of new animal or cell culture irradiation models
  • Assistance in whole body or localized irradiation of animal models
  • Assistance in radiation exposure of cell cultures

Equipment and Facilities

Core maintains equipment and provides experimental support:

  • Mark 1 Model 68A (J.L. Shepherd) cesium source irradiator, Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute
  • Seifert Isovolt 320 X-ray generator, Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute
  • Small Animal Radiation Research Platform (SARRP, Xstrahl), Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute

Core provides experimental support only:

  • Mark 1 Model 25 (J.L. Shepherd) cesium source irradiator, affiliated VA
  • Small Animal Conformal Radiation Therapy Device (SACRTD), UAMS Department of Radiation Oncology
  • Faxitron cabinet X-ray system, UAMS Department of Radiation Oncology


Our new powerful and customizable Small Animal Radiation Research Platform constructed by Xstrahl (Camberley, United Kingdom) is based on state-of-the-art Image Guided Micro-Irradiation (IGM™) techniques containing a high accuracy cone beam CT imaging system and a high dose delivery therapeutic X-ray source in a single platform which will make it possible to target local spontaneous tumor.  This enables us to pinpoint an exact anatomical target and confidently deliver 0.5mm beams to that point.


Chronic irradiation facility: Division of Radiation Health at UAMS has established a chronic irradiation facility using a 2.5-Ci Cs-137 radiation source, which is capable of scattering radiation in all direction at dose rate of approximately 0.1 cGy/h (Figure 1). The facility has been modified as a satellite animal facility so that animals can be housed and irradiated for days/weeks/months. Animals are placed 1 meter from the radiation source on custom-made trapezoid-shaped two-tier plastic table as shown in Figure 1. At least 30 big or 60 small animal cages can be placed around the source.