Norman Kleiman

Norman Kleiman

Norman Kleiman

Assistant Professor
Environmental Health Sciences at the Columbia University Medical Center
Director, MS Degree Program in Radiological Sciences & Toxicology


722 West 168th Street, 11th Floor
New York NY USA 10032


Norman J. Kleiman, PhD, works at the intersection of public health, radiation research and ophthalmology, often using the eye as a model system to study the effects of environmental exposures, and ionizing radiation in particular, on human health. His work on NASA and DOE funded research is directed towards understanding how exposure to small amounts of low-LET radiation, like X-rays, or high energy space radiation, causes cataract in animal models, including those that have gene defects involving DNA damage recognition and repair or cell cycle control. Other research of Dr. Kleiman estimates relative risk of radiation cataract in medical workers such as interventional cardiologists and associated nursing personnel following occupational exposure to X-ray. A collaborative study with Ukrainian colleagues examines radiation risk in Chornobyl accident cleanup workers, and a NIEHS funded project investigates the potential relationship between arsenic exposure and eye pathology. Dr. Kleiman also studies how radiation or other environmental stresses cause DNA damage, misrepair and mutagenesis that lead to disease and how individual genetic determinants influence risk. These investigations help in formulating appropriate risk policies and aid in development of human radiation exposure guidelines as well as having important therapeutic implications for radio- and/or chemo-sensitive subsets of the human population. Dr. Kleiman is a technical cooperation expert for the International Atomic Energy Agency and serves on scientific committees of the National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP) and the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP).



PhD, 1985, Vanderbilt University
MS, 1982, Vanderbilt University
BS, 1979, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Editorial Boards

Associate Editor, Current Molecular Medicine
Associate Editor, Frontiers in Radiation and Health
Faculty Advisory Board-The Journal of Global Health

Columbia Affiliations

Director, Eye Radiation and Environmental Research Laboratory
Vice-Chair, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

Other Affiliations

Honors & Awards

Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology (JVIR): Outstanding Clinical Research Paper of 2013

Areas of Expertise

Aging and Elderly, Arsenic Exposure, Chemical Hazards, Environmental Risk Factors, Environmental Toxins, Radiation Exposure, Toxicity of Heavy Metals, Toxicology, Epigenetics, Gene-Environment Interactions, Genetic Susceptibility, Genetics, Genomics, Public Health Education

Select Global Activities

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Technical Co-Operation Expert, World: IAEA specialists are a key element in the technical cooperation programme (TCP) and assist developing Member States to achieve self-reliance in numerous scientific and technological fields. Specific tasks are defined by the scope and objectives of the individual projects within the TCP. Typically, expert services include provision of advice to counterparts in the field, lecturing at training courses, and contributions to meeting/workshops. Technical Co-Operation experts possess sophisticated scientific and technical knowledge, and have the ability to share it effectively with others.
U.S. Director; Ukrainian American Chernobyl Ocular Study (UACOS), Ukraine: The Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident in 1986 and resultant explosion and fire caused radioactive contamination of large areas of Belarus and Ukraine. More than 250,000 individuals (Liquidators) were involved in clean-up and maintenance activities at the site. Many thousands were exposed to low doses of ionizing radiation. The Ukrainian American Chernobyl Ocular Study (UACOS) was established in 1996 to monitor the effects of this radiation exposure on the eyes of clean-up workers. Among eye tissue, the lens is most radiosensitive. Time and dose dependent development of posterior subcapsular cataracts (psc) following radiation exposure is well established as a marker of radiosensitivity. The goals of the UACOS are to monitor development of psc in a subset of the Liquidator population that undergoes periodic health and ophthalmological examinations and for whom there is good bio-dosimetry data associated with the clean-up efforts. In particular, this multi-decade, longitudinal study measures radiation cataract incidence, non-subjectively grades and records lens opacification using Scheimpflug imaging and, in cases where cataracts are surgically removed, stores lens capsule-epithelial fragments for biochemical and molecular biological analysis. To date, findings from this study have led to a significant lowering of the supposed cataract "threshold" radiation dose to about 130 mSv, and have called into question the prevailing view of radiation cataract as a deterministic event. If, in point of fact, radiation cataract development is not deterministic but instead, stochastic, with no radiation threshold, then re-evaluation of current risk-assessment standards is warranted.
ICRP Task Group on Tissue Reactions and Non-Cancer Effects of Radiation, Committee 1: The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), a multi-national, independent network of specialists in various fields of radiological protection, provides recommendations and guidance on all aspects of protection against ionizing radiation to the general public and to governmental regulatory bodies and agencies. Its reports are published by Elsevier in the "Annals of the ICRP". The ICRP uses Task Groups of specialists (performing defined tasks) and Working Parties (developing ideas) to prepare its reports. At any one time, about one hundred scientists are actively involved in the work of the ICRP.

Select Publications

Kleiman NJ, Stewart FA, Hall EJ. Modifiers of radiation effects in the eye. Life Sci Space Res (Amst) 2017; 15:43-54.
Kleiman NJ, Quinn AM, Fields KG, Slavkovich V, Graziano JG (2016) Arsenite accumulation in the mouse eye. J Toxicol Environ Health A 2016; 79:339-41.
Buonnanno M, Randers-Pehrson G, Smilenov LB, Kleiman NJ, Young E, Ponnayia B, Johnson GW, Brenner DJ. A mouse ear model for bystander studies induced by microbeam irradiation. Radiat Res 2015; 184:219-25.
Son, AI, Shelag, M, Cooper, MA, Sun, Y, Kleiman, NJ, Zhou, R. Formation of persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous in Ephrin-A5-/- mice. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2014; 55:1594-1606.
Vano E, Kleiman NJ, Duran A, Romano M, Rehani, MM. Radiation associated lens opacities in catheterization personnel: Results of a survey and direct assessments. J Vasc Interv Radiol 2013; 4:197-204.
Shuryak I, Smilenov LB, Kleiman NJ, Brenner DJ. Prophylactic Mammary Irradiation as a Breast-Conserving Approach to Reduce Contralateral Second Breast Cancer Risks: validation in a mouse model. PLoS One 2013; 8:e85795.
Kleiman, NJ. Radiation Cataract. Ann ICRP 2012; 41:80-97.
Frederikse PH, Kasinathan C, Kleiman, NJ. Parallels between neuron and lens fiber cell structure and molecular regulatory networks. Dev Biol 2012; 368:255-60.
Ciraj-Bjelac O, Rehani MM, Sim KH, Liew HB Vano E, Kleiman, NJ. Risk for radiation induced cataract for staff in interventional cardiology: Is there reason for concern? Catheter Cardiovasc Interv 2010; 76:826-34.
Kleiman NJ, David J, Elliston CD, Hopkins KM, Smilenov LB, Brenner DJ, Worgul BV, Hall EJ, Lieberman HB. Mrad9 and Atm haploinsufficiency enhance spontaneous and X-ray-induced cataractogenesis in mice. Radiat Res 2007; 168:567-73.

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