Meet our 3rd Annual Arthur Pilla Young Scientist Award Winner, Dr. Maura Casciola from Rome, Italy

Dr. Maura Casciola interview

I caught up with Dr. Casciola just as she and her colleague were finishing up an experiment in her lab at the Frank Reidy Center for Bioelectrics, Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA

The Arthur Pilla Young Scientist Award is presented each year to a young Ph.D. researching the effects of Pulsed Electromagnetic fields on biological systems.  For our third annual award, we presented in Portoroz, Slovenia at the Annual Joint meeting of the Biolectromagnetics Society (BEMS) and the European BioElectromagnetics Association (EBEA).   As we approach our 4th Annual award presentation,  we wanted to take a moment to highlight our 3rd Annual award winner, Dr. Maura Casciola of Rome, Italy.   Currently, Dr. Casciola is conducting research at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA.  I caught up with Dr. Casciola quite literally while she was conducting an experiment in her lab!  Here’s what she had to say:

Astrid:  Thank you for speaking with me today! Can you summarize your research for us?

Dr. Casciola:  Since 2016 I have been studying neuron excitation using Pulsed Electric Fields.  My study, entitled, “Nanosecond bipolar cancellation of action potentials in nerve fibers” sought to show the effects of nanosecond, millisecond, high-intensity pulsed electric fields (PEF’s) on biological targets.  By adjusting the amplitude as well as duration, plus the inter-pulse intervals of a bipolar nanosecond pulse, we show that we can reduce and eventually suppress the response of the nerve.

Astrid:  For those who may not understand the significance of your study, can you explain why you are excited about this finding? 

Dr. Casciola:  If we can suppress the response of cells close to the electrodes while maintaining the response in a remote area, this opens up the possibility of remote, targeted deep tissue stimulation.  Using electrodes in contact with the surface of the body we could trigger the response of any deep region without damaging the surrounding tissues.

Astrid:  What other potential applications can you think of that we can getting excited about from further research in this area?

Dr. Casciola:  Right now, we are at the stage of looking for the optimization of the experimental condition to reduce the response of the cells surrounding the area to be treated.   If we can find the optimal conditions, this can lead to exciting possibilities such as aiding in tumor ablation or even Parkinson’s Disease.  But we are not there quite yet.

Astrid: Had you heard about Dr. Pilla before applying for this award? 

Dr. Casciola:  Since I was 24 years old during my studies I have often come across Dr. Pilla’s studies.  He was one of the first in this field and I am honored to have been awarded the 3rd Annual Dr. Pilla Young Scientist Award.

Astrid:  Why do you think it is important for young scientists to be offered an Award and and recognition such as this one?

Dr. Casciola:  In our field, prizes are very important!  Awards motivate young scientists to work harder;  Many times, Awards are only offered to Senior Scientists.  Therefore, this Award lets us know that we are important and motivates the mind; It motivates us to do better, achieve more… 

If we, as young scientists have a goal to focus on, it is much more motivating and easier to put in the effort.

The potential for this award pushed me to get results.  In sum, an award such as the Arthur Pilla Young Scientist Award pushes young Ph.D.’s to be the best.  My generation, we are all motivated and push ourselves and this award is a key supporting factor in that.

Astrid:  What does this award give you in terms of how you can use it ?

Dr. Casciola:  When this Award is presented to a young scientist, it is official proof of the capability and skill of the Ph.D. candidate’s duties required and training to apply for important positions, for example.  When interacting with other scientists and organizations, it is a well-respected Award that immediately attracts attention.  It is important recognition during your Ph.D. that can absolutely open up the possibility much more easily to further funding and support, as well as finding advanced positions in our field.


To support this yearly award given to a young Ph.D. candidate researching the therapeutic effects of Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMF) on biological systems, please consider donating to keep this award alive for years to come. The Arthur A. Pilla Research Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) Public Charity and all donations are tax deductible.

The fourth Annual Arthur Pilla Young Scientist Award will be awarded in Montpellier, France during the Annual Meeting from June 23-28, 2019.   Donate today to the Arthur Pilla Research Foundation in support of young scientists at this annual event!


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