The International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA) is pleased to announce Dr. María del Rosario Pérez as the winner of the 2024 Rolf M. Sievert Award.

The Rolf M. Sievert Award is made in recognition of outstanding contributions to radiological protection, which honours the memory of a leader and pioneer in radiological protection, Professor Rolf Sievert. The recipient must be pre-eminent in the discipline. Dr. Pérez was nominated by the Argentine Radioprotection Society (SAR) for her outstanding, global work in various areas of radiation protection spanning more than 3 decades.As part of accepting this award, Dr. Pérez will deliver the Sievert Lecture at the IRPA 16 Congress in July, 2024, in Orlando, Florida, USA

Dr. Pérez received her M.D. in 1980 from the Faculty of Medicine of the Buenos Aires University in Argentina (UBA). After completing her post-graduate education in Diagnostic Imaging and Radiotherapy she worked as a radiation oncologist at the Department of Radiotherapy of the Inter-Zonal General Hospital Luis Güemes, Haedo, Argentina.

Her interest in radiation protection began very early in her career, and in 1991 Dr. Pérez received a diploma on Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Atomic Energy National Commission of Argentina (CNEA) and the Faculty of Engineering of the UBA. At that point she began work as a researcher at the CNEA with a focus on assessing radiation-induced cancer risk and evaluating biological indicators of radiation exposure. From 1995 and 2007, she worked as a researcher at the National Nuclear Regulatory Body (ENREN) and the Nuclear Regulatory Authority of Argentina (ARN). She was Head of the Radiopathology Laboratory, Secretary of the ARN Advisory Council on Radiation and Radioisotopes, national liaison for the World Health Organization (WHO) Radiation Emergency Medical Preparedness and Assistance Network (REMPAN), alternate representative of Argentina at the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), and consultant for UNSCEAR on effects of ionizing radiation on the immune system.

From 2007 to 2022, Dr. Pérez worked at the World Health Organization (WHO) Radiation Programme. Dr. Pérez contributed to the revision of the International Basic Safety Standards (BSS) for Protection against Ionizing Radiation and for the Safety of Radiation Sources. She represented WHO at the Inter-Agency Committee on Radiation Safety (IACRS) and other international committees. One of her main responsibilities was the technical coordination of the WHO Global Initiative on Radiation Safety in Health Care Settings, focused on promoting the BSS in medical settings and supporting the implementation of the Bonn Call for Action. In this context, she actively collaborated with international, national and regional campaigns on radiation protection in health care in different regions of the world, such as Image Gently, EuroSafe, AfroSafe, Latin Safe, and ArabSafe. For her contribution to the radiation protection of children in pediatric healthcare, Dr. María Pérez was distinguished with the Image Gently Butterfly Award in 2015. Dr. Pérez has also actively supported the WHO response to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) accident by closely monitoring and addressing the public health risks and the information needs from member states, media, and the general public.

At present Dr. María Pérez serves as an advisor of the Board of Directors of the ARN in the area of radiation protection of patients, workers and the public, including medical preparedness and response to radiological and nuclear emergencies.

Outside of her professional activities, Dr. Pérez is best described as a passionate leader with the desire to improve the lives of people around the world. She is able to motivate groups that may have little to no knowledge of radiation protection to give it the importance it requires. She has empowered patients and carers find their voices and become true partners in their own care, particularly around radiation and medical imaging options.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Pérez, and we hope to see you at the IRPA16 Congress for the Sievert Lecture next year.


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