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Leading Researcher in Plasma Medicine Joins ODU’s Reidy Center for Bioelectrics

Michael KongMichael Kong, Batten Endowed Chair in Bioelectric Engineering

One of the world's leading researchers in the biomedical applications of cold atmospheric plasmas has joined Old Dominion University's Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics.

Michael Kong started at ODU Oct. 25, after relocating from Loughborough University in England. He brings with him 10 years of research into the emerging field of plasma medicine, in which near room temperature plasmas are used to decontaminate surgical instruments, disinfect skin and living tissues, stimulate healing of chronic wounds and suppress tumor growth.

"I was impressed with his thought processes and the way he attacks problems," said Reidy Center director Richard Heller, who hosted Kong at a symposium in Norfolk this past summer. "I think he will be an excellent addition for working and collaborating with people already here, and also outside of the center and ODU."

Kong's research addresses medical issues using ultrashort pulsed electric fields in conjunction with cold atmospheric plasmas. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal papers and since 2000 has given more than 40 plenary/invited talks at major international conferences. He has been appointed as a Batten Endowed Chair in Bioelectric Engineering in the Batten College of Engineering and Technology, and will do both teaching and research at the university.

Kong is the first of a handful of specialists in their field who have pledged to relocate to ODU in the next 12 months. To Heller, it represents a tangible sign of the growth of the research strength of the Reidy Center. "Now is ripe. This is a time that we could really blast off," he said.

The challenge is, the rest of the world is in this race, too.

"The potential for this technology is endless," Heller said. "I've said this before and I do believe it, we haven't even got into the meat of it yet. There are just so many different things that can be done. This is why the expansion is so critical, to bring in some additional people, just to have good brains to be a part of the conversation. Because every time we talk about something, we come up with another concept we can do.

"And there are a lot of people chasing us now, from all over the world."

Kong received B.S. and M.S. degrees, both in physical electronics, from Zhejiang University in China, in 1984 and 1987, respectively. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Liverpool in 1992 for his work on low-voltage free-electron lasers.

Kong's wife, Hai-Lan Chen, will also join the Reidy Center as a research associate professor in electrical engineering.

ODU's Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics has as its mission increasing scientific knowledge and understanding of the interaction of electromagnetic fields and ionized gases with biological cells, and applying this knowledge to the development of medical diagnostics, therapeutics and environmental decontamination.

The objectives of the center are to perform leading-edge interdisciplinary and multi-institutional research, recruit top faculty and exceptional graduate students, support regional, national and international programs, and increase external funding and institutional visibility.