Title ImageMTHR - Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research

Invitation For Research Bids

Following the publication of the report by the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones, chaired by Sir William Stewart, and the Group’s recommendation for further research in this field, a Programme Management Committee was set up to advise on this research programme. Following the first call for research applications published earlier this year, the Committee invites additional outline proposals to undertake research into the possible health impact of Mobile Telecommunications, particularly in the following areas:

Human Volunteer studies

The PMC felt that several important areas of research were not covered adequately by the first round of applications. One such area was human volunteer studies designed to measure the direct effects of RF radiation on people to substantiate any possible biological, medical or psychological effects from the use of mobile telecommunications.

The PMC seeks applications on the following topics:

  • Acute effects of exposure to mobile phone signals on non-invasive measures of brain activity such as EEG, ERP, PET and fMRI, especially in relation to brain activity correlates of cognitive function.
  • Relationship between acute effects of RF exposure on cognitive function or brain activity and biochemical responses (for example gene expression profiles in white blood cells from samples collected before, during and after exposure).
  • Effects on cognitive function of long-term exposure to mobile phone signals.

Psychological and Sociological Studies

A number of proposals in this area were received in the first call, but of those considered to employ acceptable methodologies, all were considered to be outside the scope of the Programme. As a result the PMC has refocused its call in this area to include proposals on the themes of risk perception and communication and seeks proposals in the following areas:

  • The impact of adopting precautionary approaches to the management of mobile phone risks (handset usage, base stations, new telecommunications technologies) on the risk perception and behaviour of groups and/or individuals.
  • The evaluation of efforts to communicate information about mobile phone risks (handset usage, base stations, new telecommunications technologies); in particular the communication of uncertainty and any subsequent impacts on risk perception and behaviour of groups and/or individuals.
  • The effectiveness of existing government and industry consultation procedures at national and/or local levels and any relationships between them.
  • Understanding the risk/benefit trade-offs made by different groups and individuals for handsets, base stations and/or new telecommunications technologies.

Cellular Interactions

Given present concerns regarding the long and short term consequences of RF radiation interaction with biological systems, and in the absence of any widely reproduced RF effects at the cellular level, the most productive strategy is to identify and characterise robust responses in a well-characterised experimental system that can be replicated in independent laboratories.

On the basis of the evidence available, studies on cell systems for which complete genome sequences are available are preferred as they will facilitate subsequent mechanistic studies of robust responses.

Three types of studies are considered worthy of immediate investigation:

  • Effects on the expression of genes that regulate heat shock proteins in eukaryotic systems as general indicators of various types of stress.
  • Effects of RF radiation on gene expression profiles in eukaryotic and/or prokaryotic systems.
  • Non-linear mechanisms by which living cells might "demodulate" RF fields and so generate currents at the modulating frequency.

Although the PMC attaches a high priority to the areas indicated above, it is willing to consider proposals in other relevant areas including those relating to emerging technologies such as TETRA.

For a more detailed research brief and application forms please write to:

Miss. Jo Bennett, NRPB, Chilton, Oxfordshire, OX11 0RQ. Further details can be found on www.mthr.org.uk

The deadline for receipt of outline applications is noon on Friday 25th January 2002. It is anticipated that the deadline for full proposals will be in late-April 2002.


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