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Karl H. Schoenbach, eminent scholar of electrical and computer engineering at Old Dominion University, recently received a $5 million, five-year Multidisciplinary Research Initiative (MURI) grant from the Department of Defense to fund his work in bioelectrics, which holds the possibility of a cure for cancer.

The award is the second MURI grant the university has received in as many years. Last spring, Old Dominion's Physical Electronics Research Institute received $2 million for Schoenbach's and other researchers' work.

"The MURI awards strengthen the College of Engineering and Technology's position as a worldwide leader in pulsed power and cold plasma research," said Dean William Swart.

Schoenbach will serve as principal investigator for the grant and Old Dominion as the lead institution of a seven-university consortium, which includes Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Eastern Virginia Medical School, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Washington University and University of Wisconsin. Ravindra Joshi, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and X. Nancy Xu, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, will also conduct research under the grant.

Working with Dr. Stephen Beebe of EVMS, Schoenbach discovered the ability of high-intensity electric surges for brief periods of time to kill tumor cells, reduce the number of fat cells, and remodel bone and cartilage.

With the MURI grant, Schoenbach will expand his research to explore the effect of electromagnetic fields on proteins and gases and to determine the parameters that promote cell growth and/or prevent the degeneration of diseased or injured cells, tissues and organs. His research could also help the military understand how the use of radiation affects military personnel.

Schoenbach is widely recognized as an international expert in bioelectrics and plasma research. He was featured last year in a Business Week article on the applications of cold plasma.

This article was posted on: April 1, 2002

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