TA-43 Brief Description
4.23.1 Site Description
TA-43 [Table 4-21 and Figure 4-23 (index map of TA-43)] is a small site located adjacent to the Los
Alamos Medical Center on Diamond Drive. Two major facilities are located at the site: the Health
Research Laboratory (HRL) Complex is the focal point of biosciences and biotechnology at the
Laboratory. Research performed at HRL includes structural, molecular, and cellular radiobiology;
biophysics; mammalian radiobiology; biochemistry; and genetics. The HRL facility has no perimeter
fence, but the dock/service area has a security fence and gate. Access to the facility is controlled
by badge reader, and the main lobby and business office area are accessible to the public during
working hours. The other major facility is the DOEs local area office (Building 39), where the
contract for operating the Laboratory is managed.
4.23.2 Facilities Description
The HRL Complex at TA-43 is the location of the Laboratorys core competency in bioscience and
biotechnology. Originally, the Atomic Energy Commission sponsored research at the Laboratory
on how radionuclides associated with the Manhattan Project were taken up, transported, deposited,
and eliminated by the human body. This research was needed to protect workers. Studies
were also begun on the ways different types of radiation affect living systems. Later, the Laboratory
established the Center for Human Genome Studies to provide the massive computer capability
needed for mapping the human genome. These early research activities have evolved into
HRLs current research programs.
At the HRL Complex, investigators seek to understand the relationships between energy and
health through research on the effects of different types of radiation and chemicals on cells and
subcellular components. This research is important because of DOEs work in nuclear fission and
fossil fuels, both of which can generate by-products that damage deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)
and lead to carcinogenesis. HRL research addresses the molecular basis of mutagenesis, repair
of DNA, and regulation of gene expression.
HRL also supports DOEs national security needs. One research area addresses the mechanisms
by which the pulmonary system protects itself and repairs itself after having been damaged by foreign
materials, including toxic inhalants. Finally, researchers in microbial ecology and plant genetics
seek to identify and understand responses of microorganism communities and plants to environmental
stressors, including drought and the aftermath of national-defense-related activities.
Although LANL personnel have participated in human radiation experiments in the past, this research
has been discontinued. Two operations currently conducted at HRL, neurobiology and invivo
monitoring, involve monitoring humans; neither procedure is invasive. Neurobiology research
involves measuring magnetic waves emanating from the brain. In-vivo monitoring detects
any incorporation of radioactive material in personnel, which usually occurs as the result of accidental
inhalation. These operations are part of the Laboratorys radiation protection program.
The HRL Complex includes offices and laboratories (Buildings 1, 20, 24, and 37); a sewage lift station
(Building 10); storage buildings (Buildings 12, 28, 36, and 46); a cooling tower (Building 44);
a computer and instrument building (Building 45); and chemical storage structures (Buildings 47,
49, and 61).