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Rafael V. Davalos, PhD

Rafael V. Davalos, Ph.D., Professor

Rafael V. Davalos is a Professor in the Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences (2006-present). Formerly, he worked at Sandia National Laboratories (1994-2006) and departed as a Principal Member of Technical Staff in the Microsystems and Advanced Concepts Engineering Department. Dr. Davalos is the 2006 HENAAC national award recipient for most promising engineer. His invention to treat cancer using non-thermal pulsed electric fields, known as irreversible electroporation, was listed in NASA Tech Briefs one of seven technological breakthroughs of 2007. Dr. Davalos recieved the NSF CAREER, the Innovator Award from TechNite 2015, and the Most Outstanding Dissertation Adviser Award at Virginia Tech. He was named a Wallace H. Coulter Fellow in 2012 and an ASME Fellow in 2015. Dr. Davalos received his B.S. (1994) from Cornell University and his M.S. (1995) and Ph.D. (2002) from the University of California, Berkeley.

SYNOPSIS OF AREA OF INTEREST: His research interests are in image-guided surgery, in vivo and in vitro applications for electroporation, irreversible electroporation, dielectrophoreis, microfluidics, electrical manipulation of cells, impedance spectroscopy, engineered microfluidics and biotransport.

DETAILED AREA OF INTEREST: Dr. Davalos directs the Bioelectromechanical Systems Laboratory, which integrates microscale biophysics with electrophysiology, to create methods to detect and treat cancer and advance tissue engineering. His research interests include irreversible electroporation, molecular medical imaging, image-guided surgery, and cellular-based microsystems. Dr. Davalos co-founded the field of irreversible electroporation (IRE) for non-thermal tissue ablation. Using membrane-destabilizing electric pulses, IRE kills targeted cells with sub-millimeter precision without affecting blood vessels, nerves, or the extracellular matrix. IRE has the potential to treat a number of ailments including prostate hyperplasia, coronary artery restenosis and most types of cancer. Dr. Davalos also conducts research in the area of cellular-based microsystems for single cell analysis using micro-electroporation technology and to selectively concentrate targeted cells using insulator-based dielectrophoresis. Dielectrophoresis is the motion of a particle in a suspending medium due to the presence of a non-uniform electric field. Insulator-based dielectrophoresis is a method that uses insulating obstacles within a microchannel to produce a spatially non-uniform electric field. The technology exploits the unique intrinsic bioelectrical properties of a cell to selectively isolate and enrich a cell population.

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Last Updated: 07-18-2016
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