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The university's Center for Bioelectrics has a new name - the Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics. The Board of Visitors approved the name change on Sept. 9.

Reidy, whose financial contributions and commercial connections helped to establish the ODU center in 2002, recently announced an additional gift of $2 million.

A resident of Virginia Beach since 1986, Reidy is the director of Yantai Raffles Shipyard, based in China. He is also a director of an oil and natural gas exploration company in Pennsylvania and is president of McClees Associates LLC in Virginia Beach. He was a board member of Old Dominion's Bank of America Entrepreneurial Center and a long-time board member of Operation Smile, a charity based in Norfolk that performs cleft lip and palate surgery for children in 24 countries.

The bioelectrics center is located on the fifth floor of the Norfolk Public Health Building. It was developed as a research initiative of ODU in partnership with Eastern Virginia Medical School. Karl H. Schoenbach, eminent scholar of electrical and computer engineering, is the director of the center and holds the Batten Endowed Chair of Bioelectric Engineering.

The center's mission is to increase scientific knowledge and understanding of the interaction of electrical fields and ionized gases with biological cells. This new knowledge has many applications in the fields of medical diagnostics and in removing contaminants from the environment.

Reidy's gift will assist the center in meeting a number of its objectives, which include performing leading-edge interdisciplinary and multi-institutional research; recruiting top faculty and exceptional graduate students; supporting regional, national and international programs; and increasing external funding and institutional visibility.

"Frank Reidy's support will allow the center to make a quantum leap in research and development, by providing seed money for a number of bioelectrics applications with the potential for tremendous impact in medicine," Schoenbach said. "There are three areas where the support will help to move basic research to applications. The first and foremost is cancer therapy using ultrashort electrical pulses."

Schoenbach added that Reidy's gift will "allow scientists to focus on those research areas which not only promise commercial rewards, but will offer new medical therapies and environmental improvements."

Reidy assisted the center in the signing of its first licensing agreement with a large venture capital group that is expected to bring in $8 million to ODU and EVMS over the next 10 years. The ability to manipulate cell functions with electrical fields and define the results is a new field of opportunity for students and businesses to invest in, Reidy said.

Schoenbach and colleagues from ODU's electrical and computer engineering department work closely with research scientists Stephen Beebe and Stephen Buescher of the Center for Pediatric Research, a joint program of EVMS and Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters.

Old Dominion is the lead institution in partnership with EVMS, MIT, Harvard University, the University of Texas Health Science Center, Washington University and the University of Wisconsin on a five-year, $5 million Department of Defense grant awarded to the center in 2002.

This article was posted on: September 20, 2005

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