We are seeking volunteers for a study that aims to determine safe sun exposure thresholds.

The Australia Cancer Council guidelines are that sun protection is not usually needed when the UV Index is less than 3. However, this is not currently well supported by evidence. In addition, we do not know which time of day is safest to make vitamin D. This study will generate the evidence we need to give people accurate advice about safe sun exposure.


What does participation involve?

All participants will have to:

  • Complete an online questionnaire about their demographics, skin type, and sun exposure.
  • Visit QIMR Berghofer four days in a row (Monday to Thursday).
  • Lie on their stomach while six small circles of skin on their lower back (each with an area less than 1 cm2) are exposed to different low doses of ultraviolet (UV) radiation (similar to natural sunlight).
  • Have a total of seven skin biopsies taken by a doctor throughout the study. Each biopsy will be 2 mm diameter and will be taken under local anaesthetic. No stitches will be required.

The first visit will take approximately 1.5 hours. Visits two, three, and four will take approximately 1 to 1.5 hours each. 


Who can take part?

We would like to hear from you if you:

  • Are aged between 18 and 55 years;
  • Have fair to olive skin;
  • Have no personal history of skin cancer;
  • Have no personal history of severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis);
  • Are not taking any blood thinning medications; or medications which may cause you to be sensitive to light, or which reduce inflammation and healing.
  • Have no history of allergy or adverse reactions to local anaesthetic or any related drug.


Are there any benefits of taking part?


We will compensate you for your time with up to $500 (in e-gift cards) upon completion of all study procedures.

A $100 e-gift card will be provided for each session completed at QIMR Berghofer, plus a $100 bonus e-gift card for completing all 4 sessions. All e-gift cards will be provided after your last clinic visit.


Are there any risks of taking part?


There are minimal risks associated with taking part in this project. When you have a skin biopsy taken there is a small risk of infection or bleeding. If you are taking any medications which might stop your blood clotting, we will not enrol you in the study. You need to tell us if you start taking a new medication part way through the study.

Low-dose ultraviolet (UV) radiation

You will be exposed to a small amount of UV radiation on the skin of your back (similar to those obtained during normal daily activity).

The dose of UV exposure will not be strong enough to cause a burn or any redness on your skin. You will not be able to feel the UV exposure. The risk of it causing any long-term harm is very low. It is the type of dose that you could easily receive as you go about your everyday life, and with only 4 doses this will be insignificant compared with your lifetime exposure.


Who is conducting the study?


The project is being led by a team of researchers at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, including Dr Elke Hacker, Prof Rachel Neale, Prof David Whiteman, and Prof Scott Byrne (collaborator from The University of Sydney). 


Register Your Interest


Click here to complete the online eligibility questionnaire and register your interest.



Contact Low-Dose UV

If you have any questions, comments or complaints about the study please contact us by:


Phone: 0427 471 210 






Will the study cost me anything?

The study will mainly cost you in time. We estimate the eligibility questionnaire and survey at the beginning will take about 5-10 minutes each. The first visit will take about 1.5 hours. Visit two, three and four will take about 1 to 1.5 hours.

We will compensate you for your time with up to $500 (in e-gift cards) upon completion of all study procedures.

Will the punch biopsies cause scarring?

Some people may develop scarring at the biopsy site. The risk of this is low given the very small size of the biopsy. We will not enrol you in the study if you have been diagnosed with keloid scarring.


Who are the Low-Dose UV collaborators?

The following people are collaborating on the Low-Dose UV Project:  

Dr Elke Hacker QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Professor David Whiteman QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Professor Rachel Neale QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Professor Scott Byrne The University of Sydney
Professor Kiarash Khosrotehrani The University of Queensland
Associate Professor Gunter Hartel QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Professor Nicholas Hayward QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
Associate Professor Craig Sinclair Cancer Council Victoria


How do I get to QIMR Berghofer?

Please see these instructions