back to contents

John's Professional Interests Before Retirement

John Wells


A Chartered Physicist, Chartered Biologist (FRSB), Chartered Radiation Protection Professional (FSRP) and Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine

(Current Archaeological Interests)

Education and Employment

Foxwood Comprehensive School, (Maths, Further Maths and Physics) Leeds.

University of Warwick

Department of Physics (BSc), Physics (Engineering Science subsidiary)

Final year projects: Measurement of Van de Graff accelerator beam energy and X-ray crystallography of spinels.

University of Leeds

Department of Medical Physics (undergraduate placement between 2nd and 3rd years at Warwick University).

Medical Research Council Environmental Radiation Unit (Leeds Infirmary) and also the MRC Film Badge Service (Clarendon Road).

University of Salford

Department of Physics (MSc), Applied Radiation (Health) Physics.

Project: A study of the effects of storage at low temperature on the survival of escherichia-coli (Strain B) after irradiation with Cobalt-60 gamma-rays

Hope Park School, Temporary Teacher of Mathematics, Prestwich, Manchester.

University of Oxford

Department of Clinical Medicine (DPhil), Corpus Christi College and the Churchill Hospital Research Institute. Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy Research.

Chemosensitivity and radiosensitivity testing of freshly explanted human tumour cells in vitro. This investigation required attendance at operations to remove samples after tumour resections and attendance, on a one-to-one basis, with consultant Alistair Laing at chemotherapy clinics.

Berkeley Nuclear Laboratories Gloucestershire

Radiation Biophysicist, Band 4 through to Band 1 Research Officer. Health Physics Research Section: Radiobiology Laboratory (until retirement).


Professional background


Chemosensitivity and radiosensitivity testing of freshly explanted human tumour cells.

Theoretical assessment of the prognosis for survival following the inhalation of radioactive particles in man and other mammals.

Theoretical aspects of radiation cacinogenesis following highly non-uniform exposure to radioactive particulates.

Co-founder and first Executive Editor: Journal of (the Society for) Radiological Protection.

The production and dosimetry of small, high specific activity beta-emitting radioactive sources.

The acute effects of radioactive beta emitters of various energies and sizes on skin (see initial publications Nos.15&16, 1979)

Radiation protection criteria for skin.

1986 Founders' Prize (medal) of the Society for Radiological Protection for 'Contributions of distinction to radiological protection'.

1987 The acute deaths/skin damage and dosimetry at Chernobyl (UK government nominated advisor to the IAEA for a meeting at the Curie Institute in Paris (Sept-Oct) and also attended a follow-up advisory group meeting on dosimetry in Leningrad the following November).

Hair as a biological radiation dosemeter.

Plucked hair follicles: cell culture / chromosomes / micronuclei.

Micronucleus induction in human lymphocytes following irradiation in vitro and partial body irradiation in vivo.

Grey/white hair as a 'light guide' (into the skin).

Fluorescence backlight staining of biological samples.


Selected Publications

Publication numbers are not sequential, as about half have been excluded.

Those excluded relate mainly to publications 8, 15 and 16.


3.Wells, J., Berry, R.J. and Laing, A.H. X-ray survival curves of freshly explanted human tumour cells from a variety of origins. In: Human Tumours in Short Term Culture; Techniques and Clinical Applications.pp 185-187, ISBN: 0-12-209850-1, (Academic Press, P.P. Dendy:Editor)1976.

4.Wells, J., Berry, R.J. and Laing, A.H. The chemosensitivity of freshly explanted human tumour cells of various origins as determined by clonal assay and six-day growth in vitro and variation in chemosensitivity with subsequent subculturing. In: Human Tumours in Short Term Culture; Techniques and Clinical Applications. pp158-164.(as above) 1976.

5.Wells, J., A guide to the prognosis for survival in mammals following the acute effects of inhaled radioactive particles. Journal of the Institution of Nuclear Engineers, 17, No.5, 126-131, 1976. (Declassified CEGB Report, entitled '...prognosis for survival in man...', Report RD/B/M3475 1975)

6.Wells, J., Berry, R.J. and Laing, A.H. Reproductive survival in vitro of recently explanted human tumour cells following exposure to vinblastine - A suggestion for improved clinical dose schedules. European Journal of Cancer, 12, 793, 1976.


7.Wells, J., Berry, R.J. and Laing, A.H. Reproductive survival of explanted human tumor cells after exposure to nitrogen mustard or X-irradiation; Differences in response with subsequent subculture in vitro. Radiation Research, 69 , 90, 1977.


8.Wells, J. Theoretical aspects of radiation carcinogenesis: Cell survival-dependent dose-rate effects. Journal of the Institution of Nuclear Engineers, 19, 89, 1978. (Originally, CEGB Report RD/B/N3857 1976)


15.Wells, J. and Charles, M.W. The development of criteria for limiting the non-uniform irradiation of skin: The rationale for a study of non-stochastic effects. CEGB Report RD/B/N4565, 1979.

16.Wells, J. and Charles, M.W. Proposed experiments for assessing the potential use of skin as an indicator of sub-erythemal radiation exposure. CEGB Report RD/B/N4629, 1979.

The above reports were some of the initial publications leading to a large, long-term, collaborative research programme, which included John Hopewell et al. at the Churchill Hospital Research Institute in Oxford and John Coggle et al. at St. Batholomew's Hospital Medical College in London.


17.Wells, J., Berry, R.J., and Laing, A.H. The effect of irradiated feeder cells on the X-ray survival curve shape of freshly explanted human tumor cells and a standard human tumor cell line. Radiation Research, 81, 150, 1980.


20.Wells, J. Plucked hairs as cytogenetic monitors of exposure to radiation or mutagenic chemicals. Radiation Protection Dosimetry, 1,305, 1981.

21.Wells,J., Charles, M.W. and Warner, T.T., Some cytological characteristics of plucked hairs and their potential for radiation measurement. CEGB Report RD/B/5176N81, 1981.


22.Wells, J. and Charles, M.W. Biological dosimetry of non-uniform radiation exposure. In: Proceedings of the 3rd. International Symposium on Radiation Protection - Advances in Theory and Practice.ISBN: 0-9508123-0-7, Vol. 1, pp 352, 1982.

23.Wells, J., Charles, M.W., Peel, D.M., Hansen, L., Hopewell, J.W. and Coggle, J.E. Non-uniform irradiation of skin: Criteria for limiting non-stochastic effects. Proceeding of the 3rd. International Symposium on Radiation Protection - Advances in Theory and Practice. ISBN:0-9508123-0-7, Vol.2, pp 537, 1982.

26.Wells, J., Current radiation protection criteria for non-stochastic effects in skin: An invited paper presented at a workshop (of the EULEP Committee for Non-Neoplastic Disease) on the response of skin to ionising radiation. Reisensburg, February 1982 (abstract) EULEP Newsletter No. 28, April 1982.

27.Wells, J. A simple technique for establishing cultures of epithelial cells. British Journal of Dermatology, 107, 481, 1982.


28.Wells, J., Charles, M.W. and Warner, T.T., Chromosomes from the epithelium of plucked human telogen hairs. Human Genetics, 63, 315,1983.

29.Wells, J. Corona discharge photography of metal surfaces: The Kirlian effect, CEGB Memorandum TPRD/B/PC/0116/M83, 1983.

30.Wells, J., Human hair: An educational tool. Journal of Biological Education, 17, 185, 1983.


37.Wells, J. Milton/Giemsa banding of chromosomes - Not ready for adoption. (Letter) Karyogram, 10, 58, 1984.


41.Wells, J., Plucked hairs: A source of cells for culture or cytogenetic analysis (Abstract). Human Toxicology, 4, 537, 1985.

43.Wells, J., Plucked hairs in culture, Alternatives to Laboratory Animals (Letter), 12, 259, 1985.

44.Wells, J., and Sieber, V.K. Morphological characteristics of cells derived from plucked human hair in vitro. British Journal of Dermatology, 113 ,669 , 1985.


46.Sieber, V.K. and Wells, J. The use of plucked hairs as a biological dosemeter. British Journal of Radiology, Suppl. 19, 92, 1986.

48.Wells, J. Problems associated with localised skin exposure. (An invited paper presented at a meeting organised by the CEC and IPSN in Paris).British Journal of Radiology, Suppl. 19, 146, 1986.

52.Wells, J. Chromosomes from plucked hairs. Karyogram, 12, 15, 1986.


54.Wells, J., Hopewell, J.W., Charles, M.W. and Coggle, J.E. Accidental exposure of skin to beta emitters: Dose distribution and biological effects. (Abstract). Radiation Research: Proceedings of the 8th International Congress of Radiation Research, 1987.


57.Wells, J. The biological implications of beta irradiation of skin (invited paper), Beta Dosimetry - Fifth Information Seminar on the Radiation Protection Dosemeter Intercomparison Programme:EUR 11363 Bologna, May 1987, 161, 1988.

58.Wells, J. A technique for staining the superficial cells of plucked hair follicles and other solid tissue samples. Stain Technology, 63, 189, 1988.

61.Wells, J. Extrapolation ionisation chamber measurements on beta-emitting sources produced for the CEGB collaborative radiobiology programme. CEGB Report TPRD/B/0867/R88, 1988.

61a Wells, J. Chernobyl to Leningrad via Paris. The BNL Magazine, No4, October 1988


62.Wells, J. Hair light guide. Nature, 338, 23, 2 March 1989.

63.Wells, J. A simple and fast technique for staining solid pieces of tissue. Microscopy and Analysis, Issue 10, 31, March 1989.

64.Wells, J., Hall, S.C., Mill, A.J. and Charles, M.W., Biological dosimetry using skin, hair and blood. Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium on Radiation Protection - Malvern'89. ISBN 0-85498-052-0, 441, 1989.

67.Wells, J., Sieber, V.K., Hopewell, J.W. and Hall, S.C. Biological dosimetry of non-uniform radiation exposure. CEGB Research. No23, 17, December 1989.

68.Wells, J. Demonstration of mitoses on the surface of solid tissue samples using fluorescence backlight staining. Karyogram, 15, 6, 124, 1989.


69.Wells, J. and Butler, A. Letter to the Editor (on radiation deletion of the hair medulla increasing light transmission along grey hair). International Journal of Radiation Biology, 58, 2, 383, 1990.


71.Wells, J., Observing cells in plucked hair follicles. Journal of Biological Education, 25, 1, 3, 1991.

72.Wells, J., Butler, A., Hopewell, J.W. Ritchie, D.M. and Preece, A.W. The development of biological dosimetry techniques for assessing non-uniform radiation exposure. Nuclear Electric Report TD/RPB/REP/0064, March 1991.

73.Wells, J., Butler A., Ritchie, D.M. and Preece, A.W., Micronucleus induction in human lymphocytes following irradiation in vitro and partial-body exposure in vivo. (Abstract), International Journal of Radiation Biology, 60, 6, 948, 1991.

74.Wells, J., Butler, A., and Hopewell, J.W. Radiation-induced changes in the medulla, follicle and diameter of plucked pig hair and their potential for biological dosimetry. (Abstract), International Journal of Radiation Biology, 60, 6, 949, 1991.

75.Wells, J. Skin tumors from hair follicles (letter) Health Physics Society Newsletter, 19, 7, 6, (July) 1991.