Britten, Richard A.



  • Richard A. Britten is a Professor of Radiation Oncology at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), where he finally settled after working in the UK, the USA and Canada. His 30 year career in radiation biology, has been quite varied but the one consistent factor has been an emphasis on particle radiation (fast neutrons, protons, Galactic Cosmic Radiation (GCR)).

    Educational Background: In 1987 Prof. Britten (Rich) earned his Ph.D. in Radiotherapy at the University of Leeds (UK), where his thesis focused on developing a new method to identify Cervical Cancer patients who would be unresponsive to radiation treatment. Dr. Britten then moved to the CRC Clatterbridge Cyclotron Center, where he established the radiobiological properties of the clinical fast neutron beam. While at Clatterbridge he became interested in optimizing the delivery of chemo-radiation protocols, and started to work on identifying the molecular determinants of cellular sensitivity to radiation and chemotherapy (ovarian and cervical cancer). In 1992, Rich became an Instructor at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas where he continued his research on fast neutron radiobiology, and worked with Dr. David Murray on DSB repair. In 1993, Rich became an Assistant Professor of Oncology at the University of Alberta, Canada, where he continued to develop his program on the molecular determinants of the response of cancer cells to radiation and chemotherapy. 2001 saw a move to EVMS as an Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology, with the intention of developing a molecular based chemo/radiation prescription protocol for Head and Neck cancer patients. In 2007 Rich started his highly successful space radiobiology program that focused on the impact of GCR on neurocognition. In 2016, Dr. Britten was promoted to the rank of Full Professor.

    Prof. Britten is currently funded by NASA to determine the incidence and mechanistic basis of GCR-induced neurocognitive impairment, the interaction of sleep perturbation and GCR on neurocognitive performance, and is also part of the UC-Irvine NSCOR. His program has now started to investigate the breakdown of neural network functioning after exposure to radiation and chemotherapeutic agents, with a particular focus on pediatric cancer patients.

    Prof. Britten has served on numerous grant reviewing panels for NASA, NIAID and CDMP, and has been involved in planning of several international conferences. Prof. Britten also serves as a subject matter expert for several NASA initiative and is on the Governing Council of his professional society (The Radiation Research Society).

    Outside of work, Rich is a father of five children and a grandfather to three. Outside of his love for his family, his big passion is rugby, having played and coached the game for over 40 years.

selected publications

research overview

  • The Britten Laboratory studies the impact that radiation and chemotherapy have on neurocognitive function. The major emphasis has been the impact of Space Radiation n executive function is support of NASA's planned mission to Mars. We are now in the process of expanding our scope of work to study the mechanistic basis of both "chemobrain" and "beamobrain"

    Through collaborations with other members of the CINID at EVMS and at many other institutes, we are developing state of the art techniques to measure neural network connectivity while rats are under cogntive loading.

preferred title

  • Professor of Radiation Oncology, Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Cell Biology

full name

  • Richard A. Britten, PhD


Recent publications and grants in Researchers@EVMS