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Biological Sciences Staff information

Marianne Sowa

Radiation Biology
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
PO Box 999
MSIN: J4-02
Richland, WA 99352


Dr. Marianne Sowa's expertise lies in the effects of ionizing radiation on cells and complex tissue models. One current research focus is the study of radiation induced bystander effects, the observation of a biological response in the absence of direct irradiation. Although bystander effects have been demonstrated for high-LET radiation, they have not been definitely shown for low doses of low-LET radiation. In an effort to directly address this latter case, Dr. Sowa and her colleagues have developed a novel single cell irradiation device. This device was designed such that high-energy electrons deposit energy in a pre-selected subset of cells for which the un-irradiated neighbors can be easily identified. By targeting individual cells with a highly spatially resolved dose, the biological responses of a single irradiated cell or a bystander can be studied. The electron microbeam is currently located at the University of Maryland School of Medicine where Dr. Sowa has a joint appointment.

Current studies on cell physiology and reaction to stimuli usually are done using cells cultured on two-dimensional surfaces. This geometry greatly simplifies the methodology used to observe and propagate cells; however, it places great constraints on how one can investigate intercellular communication and stress responses. Dr. Sowa and co-workers have developed the tools necessary to analyze cell signaling in a three-dimensional (3-D) environment. She has led a team to design and assembled a high-speed confocal microscope that can simultaneously acquire two-color images at speeds up to 30 frames per second. This provides the capability to perform near-real-time fluorescent resonance energy transfer (FRET) and ratiometric analysis of confocal images. Also, researchers can quantitatively measure the spatial and temporal characteristics of signals that propagate from cell to cell in three-dimensions and in real time. Currently, it is also being used to analyze cell signaling in a 3-D environment and to visualize radiation-induced bystander signaling in 3-D cell cultures in situ.

In addition to the publications listed at the bottom of this page, additional publications are as follows:

Morgan, WF and MB Sowa. 2007. "Non-Targeted Bystander effects Induced by Ionizing Radiation." Mutation Res. 616:159-164.

Perrine, KA, B LaMarche, D Hopkins, S Budge, L Opresko, HS Wiley, and MB Sowa. 2007. "High speed method for in situ multispectral image registration." Microscopy Technique and Instrumentation 70:382-389.

Morgan, WF and MB Sowa. 2007. "Towards resolving conflicting reports of radiation induced genomic instability in populations exposed to ionizing radiation: implications for the hibakusha." International Congress Series, Radiation Life Sciences 1299:128-134.

Morgan, WF and MB Sowa. in press. "Targeted and Non-targeted Induction of Chromosomal Rearrangements After Exposure to ionizing Radiation." In Chromosomal Alterations: Importance to Human Health.

Please note that some of Dr. Marianne Sowa's publications listed below were written under her former name, Resat.

Research Interests

  • Effects of ionizing radiation on cells and tissues
  • Targeted and non-targeted responses to ionizing radiation
  • Induced genomic instability
  • High speed confocal imaging methods
  • Device development and integration

Education and Credentials

  • Ph.D., Chemistry, State University of New York, Stony Brook, Advisor: Scott Anderson
  • B.S., Biology (Chemistry minor), Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama

Affiliations and Professional Service

  • Radiation Research Society
  • Since 2004, Dr. Sowa has been an adjunct full professor at the University of Maryland's School of Medicine, Dept. of Radiation Oncology, Baltimore

PNNL Publications


  • Varnum SM, MB Sowa, GJ Kim, and WF Morgan. 2013. "Radiation-induced Genomic Instability and Radiation Sensitivity." In Encyclopedia of Radiation Oncology, ed. LW Brady and TE Yaeger.  Springer, New York, NY. 
  • von Neubeck C, H Shankaran, M Geniza, PM Kauer, RJ Robinson, WB Chrisler, and MB Sowa. 2013. "Integrated Experimental and Computational Approach to Understand the Effects of Heavy Ion Radiation on Skin Homeostasis." Integrative Biology 5(10):1229-1243.  doi:10.1039/C3IB40071A


  • Freiin von Neubeck CH, H Shankaran, NJ Karin, PM Kauer, WB Chrisler, X Wang, RJ Robinson, KM Waters, SC Tilton, and MB Sowa. 2012. "Cell Type-dependent Gene Transcription Profile in Three Dimensional Human Skin Tissue Model Exposed to Low Doses of Ionizing Radiation: Implications for Medical Exposures." Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis 53(4):247-259.  doi:10.1002/em.21682
  • Hu Z, YM Kim, MB Sowa, RJ Robinson, X Gao, TO Metz, WF Morgan, and Q Zhang. 2012. "Metabolomic Response of Human Skin Tissue to Low Dose Ionizing Radiation." Molecular Biosystems 8(7):1979-1986.  doi:10.1039/C2MB25061F
  • Shankaran H, TJ Weber, CH Freiin von Neubeck, and MB Sowa. 2012. "Using Imaging Methods to Interrogate Radiation-Induced Cell Signaling." Radiation Research 177(4 ):496-507.  doi:10.1667/RR2669.1
  • Waters KM, DL Stenoien, MB Sowa, CH Freiin Von Neubeck, WB Chrisler, R Tan, RL Sontag, and TJ Weber. 2012. "Annexin A2 Modulates Radiation-Sensitive Transcriptional Programming and Cell Fate." Radiation Research 179(1):56-61.  doi:10.1667/RR3056.1
  • Yang F, KM Waters, BJM Webb-Robertson, MB Sowa, CH Freiin von Neubeck, JT Aldrich, LM Markillie, RM Wirgau, MA Gristenko, R Zhao, DG Camp, II, RD Smith, and DL Stenoien. 2012. "Quantitative Phosphoproteomics Identifies Filaggrin and other Targets of Ionizing Radiation in a Human Skin Model." Experimental Dermatology 21(5):352-357.  doi:10.1111/j.1600-0625.2012.01470.x


  • Miller JH, A Suleiman, WB Chrisler, and MB Sowa. 2011. "Simulation of Electron-Beam Irradiation of Skin Tissue Model." Radiation Research 175(1):113-118.  doi:10.1667/RR2339.1
  • Miller JH, WB Chrisler, X Wang, and MB Sowa. 2011. "Confocal Microscopy for Modeling Electron Microbeam Irradiation of Skin." Radiation and Environmental Biophysics 50(3):365-369.  doi:10.1007/s00411-011-0371-z
  • Sowa MB, W Goetz, JE Baulch, AJ Lewis, and WF Morgan. 2011. "No Evidence for a Low Linear Energy Transfer Adaptive Response in Irradiated RKO Cells." Radiation Protection Dosimetry 143(2-4):311-314.  doi:10.1093/rpd/ncq487


  • Sowa MB, W Goetz, JE Baulch, DN Pyles, J Dziegielewski, S Yovino, AR Snyder, SM de Toledo, EI Azzam, and WF Morgan. 2010. "Lack of evidence for low-LET radiation induced bystander response in normal human fibroblasts and colon carcinoma cells." International Journal of Radiation Biology 86(2):102-113.  doi:10.3109/09553000903419957
  • Sowa MB, WB Chrisler, KD Zens, EJ Ashjian, and LK Opresko. 2010. "Three-dimensional Culture Conditions Lead to Decreased Radiation Induced Crytoxicity in Human Mammary Epithelial Cells." Mutation Research. Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis 687(1-2):78-83.  doi:10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2010.03.004


  • Morgan WF, and MB Sowa. 2009. "Non-Targeted Effects of Ionizing Radiation: Implications for Risk Assessment and the Radiation Dose Response Profile." Health Physics 97(5):426-432.  doi:10.1097/HP.0b013e3181ab98c7


  • Morgan WF, and MB Sowa. 2007. "Non-Targeted Bystander Effects Induced by Ionizing Radiation." Mutation Research 616(1-2):159-164. 
  • Morgan WF, and MB Sowa. 2007. "Targeted and Non-Targeted Induction of Chromosomal Rearrangements After Exposure to Ionizing Radiation." In Chromosomal Alterations: Methods, Results and Importance in Human Health, pp. 87-97.  Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany. 
  • Morgan WF, and MB Sowa. 2007. "Towards Resolving Conflicting Reports of Radiation-Induced Genomic Instability in Populations Exposed to Ionizing Radiation: Implications for the Hibakusha." In Radiation Risk Perspectives: Proceedings of the Second Nagasaki Symposium of International Consortium for Medical Care of Hibakusha and Radiation Life Science, Nagasaki, Japan, 26-27 July 2006. Published in International Congress Series, vol. 1299, pp. 128-134.  Elsevier B.V., Amsterdam, Netherlands.  doi:doi:10.1016/j.ics.2006.10.003
  • Perrine KA, BL Lamarche, DF Hopkins, SE Budge, L Opresko, HS Wiley, and MB Sowa. 2007. "High Speed Method for in Situ Multispectral Image Registration." Microscopy Research and Technique 70(4):382-389.  doi:10.1002/jemt.20423


  • Sowa MB, W Goetz, JE Baulch, and WF Morgan. 2006. "Low-LET Bystander Responses in Gap Junction Null Human Colon Carcinoma Cells (RK036)." Radiation Research 166(4):688-689. 
  • Resat MS, BJ Arthurs, BJ Estes, and WF Morgan. 2006. "Effects of Ionizing Radiation on Cellular Structures, Induced Instability, and Carcinogenesis." In Cancer: Cell Structures, and Tumour Pathogenesis, Experientia Supplementum, vol. 96, ed. LP Bignold, pp. 293-301.  Birkhauser, Basel, Switzerland. 


  • Sowa MB, LE Kathmann, BA Holben, BD Thrall, and GA Kimmel. 2005. "Low-LET Microbeam Investigation of the Track-End Dependence of Electron-Induced Damage in Normal Human Diploid Fibroblasts." Radiation Research 164(5):677-679. 
  • Sowa MB, MK Murphy, JH Miller, JC McDonald, DJ Strom, and GA Kimmel. 2005. "A Variable-Energy Electron Microbeam: A Unique Modality for Targeted Low-LET Radiation." Radiation Research 164(5):695-700. 
  • Lynch DJ, WE Wilson, MT Batdorf, MB Resat, GA Kimmel, and JH Miller. 2005. "Monte Carlo Simulation of the Spatial Distribution of Energy Deposition for an Electron Microbeam." Radiation Research 163(4):468-472. 
  • Morgan WF, and MB Sowa. 2005. "Effects of Ionizing Radiation in Nonirradiated Cells." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 102(40):14127-14128. 
  • Perrine KA, DF Hopkins, BL Lamarche, and MB Sowa. 2005. "Pixel Perfect." Scientific Computing & Instrumentation 22(10):16-20. 
  • Perrine KA, DF Hopkins, BL Lamarche, SE Budge, and MB Sowa. 2005. "Pixel Perfect: a real-time image processing system for biology." Scientific Computing & Instrumentation 22(10):16-20. 


  • Resat MS, and WF Morgan. 2004. "Microbeam Developments and Applications: A Low Linear Energy Transfer Perspective." Cancer and Metastasis Reviews 23(3-4):323-331. 
  • Resat MS, and WF Morgan. 2004. "Radiation-Induced Genomic Instability: A Role for Secreted Soluble Factors in Communicating the Radiation Response to Non-Irradiated Cells." Journal of Cellular Biochemistry 92(5):1013-1019. 
  • Resat MS, JC Solinsky, HS Wiley, KA Perrine, TA Seim, and SE Budge. 2004. "3-D Multispectral Monitoring of Living-Cell Signaling Using Confocal-Imaging and FPGA Processing." In International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging, 2004 Proceedings, IEEE, vol. 1 , pp. 680-683.  IEEE , Piscataway, NJ. 


  • Sowa MB, GA Kimmel, JH Miller, JC Mcdonald, MK Murphy, DJ Strom, BD Thrall, NF Metting, and SD Colson. 2002. "Spatially Resolved Single-Cell Irradiator to Study Bystander Responses to Low-LET Radiation." Radiation Research 158(3):375-376. 


  • Miller JH, WE Wilson, DJ Lynch, MS Resat, and HE Trease. 2001. "Computational Dosimetry for Electron Microbeams: Monte-Carlo Track Simulation with Confocal Microscopy." Radiation Research 156(4):438-439. 


  • Miller JH, MBS Resat, NF Metting, K Wei, DJ Lynch, and WE Wilson. 2000. "Monte Carlo Simulation of Single Cell Irradiation by an Electron Microbeam." Radiation and Environmental Biophysics 39(3):173-177. 

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