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Drexel Receives $1 Million Grant from W.M. Keck Foundation to Expand Plasma Research

February 1, 2012

Drexel University has received a $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to expand research on the fundamental science of interactions between plasma, which is an ionized gas, and living systems. The research, funded by the W.M. Keck Foundation, will be led by the University’s Anthony J. Drexel Plasma Institute.

 “The W.M. Keck grant will play a critical role in helping us to advance pioneering discoveries in science, engineering and medical research,” said Drexel University President John A. Fry. “With the help of this grant, the scientists at our internationally recognized Anthony J. Drexel Institute will further advance the applications of plasma science in medicine.  We are very excited about the possibilities.” 

Until recently, plasma has only been used in medicine to ablate or cauterize tissues through intense heat. Over the past decade it has become clear that plasma can affect living systems in more subtle ways by influencing biochemical processes outside and inside cells. Direct plasma treatment will open up new ways to treat wounds, burns and diseases that include ulcers and cancer. The grant will be used to gain a better understanding of plasma characteristics and its effects on biochemical processes.

An interdisciplinary plasma team of faculty from Drexel’s College of Medicine, College of Engineering, School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems and College of Arts and Sciences will lead the grant-funded research. The team includes Dr. Alexander Fridman, director of the A.J. Drexel Plasma Institute and professor of mechanical engineering; Dr. Jane Azizkhan-Clifford, chair of the College of Medicine’s department of biochemistry and molecular biology; Dr. Alexander Mazin associate professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology; Dr. Ari Brooks of the College of Medicine’s surgery department; Dr. Gary Friedman, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Plasma Medicine Laboratory in the A. J. Drexel Plasma Institute; and professors Frank Ji, Greg Fridman, and Danil Dobrynin.  

The two-year research project will take place at the Anthony J. Drexel Plasma Institute in Camden, N.J.

About A. J. Drexel Plasma Institute: 
Created in 2002, the Institute researches fundamental and applied aspects of plasma in three major directions: 1) Plasma Energy Systems: including fuel conversion, hydrogen production, green energy and ignition and combustion control 2) Plasma Medicine: direct plasma treatment of wounds, burns and diseases, and plasma sterilization of medical instruments and hospital environments and 3) Plasma Environmental Control: plasma in water cleaning, air treatment, material processing and environmental control. 

About the W.M. Keck Foundation
Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W. M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company.  The Foundation’s grant making is focused primarily on pioneering efforts in the areas of medical, science and engineering research.  The Foundation also maintains an undergraduate education program that promotes distinctive learning and research experiences for students in the sciences and in the liberal arts, and a Southern California Grant Program that provides support for the Los Angeles community, with a special emphasis on children and youth from low-income families, special needs populations and safety-net services.  For more information, please visit www.wmkeck.org