Stephen Hora Joins Scientific Committee

Knowledge in Action:

Stephen Hora Joins Scientific Committee

Stephen Hora Research professor Stephen Hora
Photo by Tom Queally

Stephen Hora, director of the USC Homeland Security Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), has been named to a National Council on Radiation Protection & Measurements scientific committee. He attended the committee’s first meeting Dec. 9 and 10.

The committee’s charge is “Biological Effectiveness of Photons as a Function of Energy.” In layman’s terms, Hora said, the committee’s work is to sort out issues related to X-rays such as those used in mammography.

“There was much concern recently when the recommended age to begin mammograms was increased,” he explained. “Part of the decision to change the recommendation relates to recent findings that low-energy photons – used in mammography – may be biologically more destructive than an equal dose of higher-energy photons.”

If X-rays are more destructive to tissue or carcinogenic, then the frequency of mammograms and the age at which they are given need to be reconsidered, Hora said.

The 12-member committee will prepare a report evaluating the risks from exposure to low-energy photons relative to higher-energy photons. Its work is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition to being the director of CREATE, Hora is a research professor at the USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.