Biological Manipulation with Intense Electromagnetic Radiation

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

11:00am – 12:15pm

310 Kelly Hall, Virginia Tech Campus

Dr. Allen Garner

Department of Nuclear Engineering

Purdue University


Recent investigations have explored applying pulsed electric fields to alter biological and cellular function for applications ranging from drug delivery to cancer treatment. The most mature example is electroporation, in which microsecond to millisecond duration electric pulses (EPs) facilitate the delivery of normally impermeant molecules and ions across cell membranes. Intense submicrosecond EPs (NSEPs) can additionally manipulate intracellular organelles and cellular function, such as inducing apoptosis in tumors or activating platelets ex vivo for wound healing.

This seminar outlines our integration of analytic approaches, simulations, and experiments to elucidate these phenomena and explore novel biomedical applications of EPs. First, I will briefly summarize the physics, biology, and application space for EP effects, including the importance of the synergy between membrane potential and temperature gradients in electropermeabilization. I will then outline our use of EPs to activate platelets for wound healing, inactivate antibiotic-resistant microorganisms, and stimulate stem cell proliferation and differentiation.


Allen Garner received his BS in nuclear engineering from the University of Illinois in 1996, MSE in nuclear engineering from the University of Michigan in 1997, MS in electrical engineering from Old Dominion University in 2003, and Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Michigan in 2006. From 1997 to 2003, he served on active duty in the U. S. Navy as a submarine officer. From 2006 to 2012, Prof. Garner was an electromagnetic physicist at GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, NY. He joined Purdue University in 2012 and is currently an Associate Professor and the Undergraduate Program Chair in Nuclear Engineering. He is also a Captain in the United States Navy Reserves. Prof. Garner has been awarded the 2016 IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Society Early Achievement Award, two Meritorious Service Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and five Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.