Norman Kleiman

Norman Kleiman

Norman Kleiman

Assistant Professor
Environmental Health Sciences at the Columbia University Medical Center
Director, Radiation Safety Officer Training Course


722 West 168th Street, 11th Floor

New York NY USA 10032

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Dr. Kleiman 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 radiation in particular, on human and animal health. For example, NASA and DOE funded research projects were designed to better understand ocular risks, and radiation cataract in particular, underlying eye exposure to low doses of different kinds of radiation, e.g. X-rays and high energy space radiation, (think cosmic rays). Related human research in Dr. Kleiman's laboratory estimates relative risk of radiation cataract in medical professionals such as interventional cardiologists and associated nursing personnel following occupational exposure to X-ray during fluoroscopic imaging procedures. A collaborative study with Ukrainian colleagues examines ocular radiation risk in Chornobyl accident cleanup workers. Recently, new projects have examined health risks posed by exposure to radiation, heavy metals and other environmental hazards in mice, voles and semi-domesticated dogs living within the Chornobyl exclusion zone. In other areas related to eye pathology, a NIEHS funded project investigates the potential relationship between arsenic exposure and cataract and recently reported significantly elevated arsenic concentrations in eye tissue. A recently funded NIEHS study examines the potentially carcinogenic heavy metal risks associated with e-cigarette use. At a mechanistic level, Dr. Kleiman applies molecular and biochemical approaches to examine how environmental toxins such as radiation, heavy metals or e-cigarette use causes DNA damage, misrepair and mutagenesis and how individual genetic determinants influence risk. Overall, these investigations help in formulating appropriate risk policies and aid in development of human exposure guidelines as well as having important therapeutic implications for radio- and/or chemo-sensitive subsets of the human population. Among other responsibilities, 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

Mailman Affiliations

Faculty, Department of Environmental Health Sciences

Editorial Boards

Academic Editor, PLoS One

Associate Editor, Frontiers in Radiation and Health

Faculty Advisory Board-The Journal of Global Health

Columbia Affiliations

Director, Eye Radiation and Environmental Research Laboratory

Advisory Council, Center for Radiological Research

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, Cancer, Cancer--Chemical/Environmental Causes, 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 Urban Health Activities

Judge, NYAS JSHS Competition: The Metro NYC Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) provides a forum for High School students to present the results of their original research in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 75 semi-finalists are invited to give ten minute oral presentations, based both on their performance at the NYC Science & Engineering Fair and the quality of their submitted research paper. Five finalists are awarded an expense-paid trip to the National Symposium where the regional 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers receive tuition scholarship awards.

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 600,000 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 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, and others, have helped lead to an up to 7-fold lowering of the recommended eye exposure threshold and have called into question the prevailing view of radiation cataract as a rather high dose deterministic event.

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

Zhao D, Navas-Acien A, Ilievski V, Slavkovich V, Olmedo P, Adria Mora B, Domingo-Relloso A, Aherrera A, Kleiman NJ, Rule A, Hilpert M. Metal concentrations in aerosols from open-system and closed-system electronic cigarette devices. Environ Res 2019; 174:125-34.

Trichter S, Soares CG, Zaider M, DeWyngaer JK, DeWerd LA, Kleiman, NJ. 15 Years of 106Ru eye plaque dosimetry at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical Center using radiochromic Film in a solid water phantom. Biomed Phys Eng Express 2018; 4:045017.

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. 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.

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.

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