Sally Amundson

  • Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology
Profile Headshot


The major focus of the Amundson laboratory is the study of gene expression responses to ionizing radiation. Exposure to adverse environmental conditions, including DNA damaging agents like radiation, triggers stress signals that lead to the altered expression of multiple genes. The genes that respond to stress are involved in many different cellular processes, such as cell-cycle control, programmed cell death, DNA repair, differentiation and senescence. By changing the pattern of genes being expressed, a cell can essentially reprogram itself to respond to environmental challenges.

Modern measurement techniques enable us to obtain a “snapshot” of gene expression across the whole genome. Interpreting a series of such snapshots can help us to understand how cells change their gene expression program as they respond to radiation exposure. This can give us insights into signal transduction pathways and the molecular mechanisms underlying cellular, tissue and whole organism responses to radiation.

The Amundson lab is using such approaches to investigate several radiation biology questions important to human health, including:

• How does exposure to low dose and low dose-rate radiation differ from high dose acute exposures?

• How do signals from irradiated cells or tissues cause effects in nearby unexposed cells (bystander effect)?

• How does radiation exposure affect breast cancer development, and how is the process different in the Space radiation environment that would be encountered in long-term manned Space missions?

• Can gene expression measurements provide radiation biodosimetry for triage in emergency situations?

Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology


  • Female

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • BA, 1986 Biology, Hamline University
  • ScD, 1992 Cancer Biology, Harvard University School of Public Health

Committees, Societies, Councils

  • Member of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements
  • Associate Editor, Radiation Research Journal, 2007-present
  • Scientific Advisory Council of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), Hiroshima, Japan
  • Radiation Research Society, Finance Committee, 2005-2011
  • Radiation Research Society, Committee for Women in Radiation Research, 2000- 2003
  • Radiation Research Society, Council, 2012-2015

Departmental and University Committees

  • Faculty Committee (Center for Radiological Research)
  • Education Committee (Department of Radiation Oncology)

Honors & Awards

  • Elected to Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) Scientific Council (2009-2014)
    • Elected to chair the 2012 RERF Review
  • Elected to the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) (2004)
  • Michael Fry Research Award, Radiation Research Society, 2004
  • Research Training Award, NCI intramural program, 1995-1998
  • Intramural Director's Fellowship, Los Alamos National Laboratory, 1992-1994
  • National Research Service Award, HSPH, Harvard University, 1986-1992
  • Phi Beta Kappa, 1986


Selected Publications

  1. Brenner DJ, Vazquez M, Buonanno M, Amundson SA, Bigelow AW, Garty G, Harken AD, Hei TK, Marino SA, Ponnaiya B, Randers-Pehrson G, and Xu Y (2014) Integrated interdisciplinary training in the radiological sciences. Br J Radiol 87: 20130779.
  2. Laiakis EC, Mak TD, Anizan S, Amundson SA, Barker CA, Wolden SL, Brenner DJ, and Fornace AJJ (2014) Development of a Metabolomic Radiation Signature in Urine from Patients Undergoing Total Body Irradiation. Radiat Res 181: 350-361.
  3. Luo X, Suzuki M, Ghandhi SA, Amundson SA, and Boothman DA (2014) ATM Regulates Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1-Secretory Clusterin (IGF-1-sCLU) Expression that Protects Cells against Senescence. PLoS One 9: e99983.
  4. Paul S, Ghandhi SA, Weber W, Doyle-Eisele M, Melo D, Guilmette R, and Amundson SA (2014) Gene Expression Response of Mice after a Single Dose of 137Cs as an Internal Emitter. Radiat Res 182(4): 380-389.
  5. Paul S and Amundson SA (2014) Differential effect of active smoking on gene expression in male and female smokers. J Carcinog Mutagen 5: 198.
  6. Ghandhi SA, Ponnaiya B, Panigrahi SK, Hopkins KM, Cui Q, Hei TK, Amundson SA and Lieberman HB (2014) RAD9 deficiency enhances radiation induced bystander DNA damage and transcriptomal response. Radiat Oncol 9: 206.
  7. Sun H, Olsen T, Zhu J, Tao JG, Ponnaiya B, Amundson SA, Brenner DJ and Lin Q (2015) A bead-based microfluidic approach to integrated single-cell gene expression analysis by quantitative RT-PCR. RSC Advances 5: 4886-4893.
  8. Turner HC, Shuryak I, Taveras M, Bertucci A, Perrier JR, Chen C, Elliston CD, Johnson GW, Smilenov LB, Amundson SA and Brenner DJ (2015) Effect of Dose Rate on Residual gamma-H2AX Levels and Frequency of Micronuclei in X-Irradiated Mouse Lymphocytes. Radiat Res, 183(3): 315-24.
  9. Ghandhi SA, Smilenov LB, Elliston CD, Chowdhury M and Amundson SA (2015) Radiation dose-rate effects on gene expression for human biodosimetry. BMC Med Genomics 8: 22.
  10. Paul S, Smilenov LB, Elliston CD and Amundson SA (2015) Radiation dose-rate effects on gene expression in a mouse biodosimetry model. Radiat Res 184: 24-32.
  11. Sun H, Olsen T, Zhu J, Tao J, Ponnaiya B, Amundson SA, Brenner DJ and Lin Q (2015) A microfluidic approach to parallelized transcriptional profiling of single cells. Microfluid Nanofluid 19: 1429-1440.
  12. Ghandhi SA, Weber W, Melo D, Doyle-Eisele M, Chowdhury M, Guilmette R and Amundson SA (2015) Effect of 90Sr internal emitter on gene expression in mouse blood. BMC Genomics 16: 586.
  13. Turner HC, Shuryak I, Weber W, Doyle-Eisele M, Melo D, Guilmette R, Amundson SA and Brenner DJ (2015) γ-H2AX Kinetic Profile in Mouse Lymphocytes Exposed to the Internal Emitters Cesium-137 and Strontium-90. PLoS One 10: e0143815.
  14. Bertucci A, Smilenov LB, Turner HC, Amundson SA and Brenner DJ (2016) In vitro RABiT measurement of dose rate effects on radiation induction of micronuclei in human peripheral blood lymphocytes. Radiat Environ Biophys 55: 53-59.
  15. Broustas CG, Xu Y, Harken AD, Garty G and Amundson SA (2017) Comparison of gene expression response to neutron and x-ray irradiation using mouse blood. BMC Genomics 18: 2.
  16. Park JG, Paul S, Briones N, Zeng J, Gillis K, Wallstrom G, LaBaer J and Amundson SA (2017) Developing Human Radiation Biodosimetry Models: Testing Cross-Species Conversion Approaches Using an Ex Vivo Model System. Radiat Res 187: 708-721.
  17. Broustas CG, Xu Y, Harken AD, Chowdhury M, Garty G and Amundson SA (2017) Impact of Neutron Exposure on Global Gene Expression in a Human Peripheral Blood Model. Radiat Res 187: 433-440.
  18. Ghandhi SA, Turner HC, Shuryak I, Dugan GO, Bourland JD, Olson JD, Tooze JA, Morton SR, Batinic-Haberle I, Cline JM and Amundson SA (2018) Whole thorax irradiation of non-human primates induces persistent nuclear damage and gene expression changes in peripheral blood cells. PLOS One, 13:e0191402.
  19. Rudqvist N, Laiakis EC, Ghandhi SA, Suresh Kumar MA, Knotts JD, Chowdhury M, Fornace AJ Jr. and Amundson SA (2018) Global gene expression response in mouse models of DNA repair deficiency after gamma irradiation. Radiat Res 189(4):337-344.
  20. Suresh Kumar MA, Laiakis EC, Ghandhi SA, Morton SR, Fornace AJ Jr, and Amundson SA (2018) Gene Expression in Parp1 Deficient Mice Exposed to a Median Lethal Dose of Gamma Rays. Radiat Res, in press.