Sixth Erice Course: Static and Low Frequency Magnetic Fields: Physical Concepts, Biological Effects, Mechanisms and Limit Setting

Authored by: Frank Prato

Published on: Aug 18, 2012

The Centre for Scientific Culture in Erice (Sicily, Italy) is named after the great Italian scientist Ettore Majorana. Antonino Zichichi, the president of the Centre, has said: “At Erice, those who come in order to follow a certain School are called ‘students’, but actually they are young people who have successfully completed their University studies and who come to Erice in order to learn what the new problems are. However, what is distinctive for Erice is the spirit animating all participants: students no less than teachers. The prime objective is to learn. The student listens to the lectures and after that comes the most amusing part: the discussion session.”

Topics in Bioelectromagnetics have come to Erice many times in the past, especially in the 1980s, with international courses and workshops on non-ionising radiation, and today many participants of those courses contribute greatly to the development of this research field.

Following the request of the European Bioelectromagnetics Association (EBEA) and the Inter-University Centre for the study of the Interaction between Electromagnetic Fields and Biosystems (ICEmB), in 2003 the Ettore Majorana Centre has established a Permanent School of Bioelectromagnetics, named after Alessandro Chiabrera, who is considered a master by the young scientists of the two organizations.

VI COURSE: “Static and Low Frequency Magnetic Fields:  Physical Concepts, Biological Effects, Mechanisms and Limit Setting”

Erice (Sicily, Italy): November 25-December 1

Directors of the Course:

Frank Prato PhD,
Lawson Health Research Inst., B5-004
St. Joseph's Health Care, 268 Grosvenor Street
London, Ont. N6A 4V2, Canada
office: (519) 646 6100 x64140
fax: (519) 646 6205


Dr Jukka Juutilainen
Department of Environmental Science,
University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 1627,
FI-70211 Kuopio, Finland.


Course Presentation

Each year 100 million patients are exposed to strong static and low frequency magnetic fields while having a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure. Each year most of humanity it exposed to weak extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields from electric power generation, distribution and use. Given this enormous exposure burden to humans and other biological organisms it is surprising that we still know so little about biological effects and, if there are effects, if they are detrimental. The Erice-EBEA school curriculum will cover a) fundamental physics including dosimetry and b) relevant data from biological systems from cell free systems to humans. These topics will be structured with respect to candidate biophysical and biochemical mechanisms including consideration of the target of the initial transduction mechanism and the importance of the choice of the experimental observable. The Erice-EBEA school will end with a consideration of what future experiments and scientific endeavors are needed to allow informed decision making with respect to exposure guidelines and further development of medical and non-medical applications.

Day 1 - Exposure metrics including related physical concepts

  • Magnetic Field Exposures from MRI now and in the future
  • Magnetic Field Exposures from power generation distribution and use now and in the future
  • Magnetic Field Exposures from current therapeutic and future therapeutic devices
  • Concepts in Risk Assessment including Detrimental effects and Stochastic effects

Day 2 - Concepts in Biophysical Detection Mechanisms and Role of Experimental Observable Induced Currents

  • Magnetic dipoles including iron magnetite and ferritin
  • Free Radical Mechanism including effects of visible light exposure
  • Resonance Mechanisms associated with metallo-protein targets
  • Common considerations such as stochastic resonance

Day 3 -Biological Data Supporting Each Proposed Mechanisms for Both High and Low Exposures

  • Induced Current -data for and concepts of threshold effects.
  • Magnetic Dipoles -data for and con -data still needed.
  • Free Radical Mechanisms including data from animal orientation and nociception
  • Resonance Mechanisms -data for and con -including noise considerations

Day 4 -Scientific Basis of current exposure limits:

  • For MRI
  • For Electric Power Generation, Distribution and Use
  • For Medical Therapy Devices
  • For Consumer Products

Day 5 -Identifying the gaps and proposals for future experiments and theoretical studies

  • For MRI For Electric Power G,D and Use. Note that this would be different for line workers vs. other workers vs. non-workers
  • For Medical Therapy Devices
  • For Consumer Products           

 One day or half a day is free for touristic excursions.


Diploma for the best poster presentation 

One day will be partially devoted to poster presentations by participants. A diploma will be awarded by a Scientific Committee to the author of the best poster.


Participation fee: 1300 € including food and lodging.


Application: Interested candidates should send an e-mail to the Directors of the Course at the following e-mail address: with the following information:

 - A short Curriculum Vitae

- Scientific interest of the candidate

- For young Researchers: letter of recommendation of a Senior Scientist by e-mail (attached Word or PDF file)

The deadline for sending the requests of participation to the School is November 5, 2012. 

Candidate accepatnce will be sent by e-mail.

The participation fee can be paid directly into the Bank Account of the Erice E. Majorana Centre, given to the applicants, following the acceptance, or directly to the School on arrival in Erice.

For details about the Ettore Majorana Centre:

Participants must arrive in Erice on November 25, possibly not later than 6 p.m. or  no later than 11 a.m. since the course starts on the following day.


Ettore Majorana Foundation and Centre for Scientific Culture

(President: prof. Antonino Zichichi)


International School of Bioelectromagnetics “Alessandro Chiabrera”

Director of the School: prof. Ferdinando Bersani (University of Bologna, Italy)