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!


2nd Annual Arthur Pilla Young Scientist Award Winner at BioEM2017 Hails from Zurich, Switzerland

During BioEM2017, a joint annual meeting between the Bioelectromagnetics Society (BEMS) and the European BioElectromagnetics Association (EBEA), our 2nd annual Arthur Pilla Young Scientist Award winner was selected!  The meeting, which took place June 5-9, 2017 in Hangzhou, China, had 5 entries this year- with topics ranging from nerve stimulation by PEMF, modeling of electroporation, magnetophosphene perception at Extremely Low Frequency magnetic fields and bacterial absorption of THz.

Dr. Manuel Murbach, from Zurich, Switzerland, was chosen as our winner for having the best presentation this year with his study entitled, “Numerical MRI Radiofrequency Exposure Estimation in Morphed Patient Anatomies”.   Manuel won a $1,200 cash prize, as well as a copy of Dr. Marko Markov’s book, “Dosimetry in Electromagnetics”, donated by Dr. Markov.

Read on to learn about the study “Numerical MRI Radiofrequency Exposure Estimation in morphed patient anatomies” and about Manuel’s view of the importance of a Young Scientist Award.

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Dr. Manuel Murbach of Zurich explains his winning research project and his view on why making Awards like this available to young scientists are so important.

Background:  In 2008, Manuel conducted a study on the effect of mobile phones on human sleep.    His current MRI safety study involve electromagnetic fields that are 100 times stronger than mobile phones.  For humans, as Magnetic Resonance Devices evolve and get stronger and faster, our safety protocols for new machines must be updated and modified.  FDA approval for all new machines is complex and this study seeks to aid and simplify this process for manufacturers.   When studying the effect of an MRI on human tissue, certain virtual body models are used, but Manuel found that there are currently not enough body types offered, therefore he developed a system whereby one can choose any body type to put into a virtual MRI machine and simulate how the radiation travels and can effect human fat and muscle tissue.  Manuel developed this MORPH tool to make it easier to see the effect of an MRI on someone with more muscle tissue, for example.  “We can cover more patient anatomies with this tool and get a better view on how an MRI affects certain human body types”, states Manuel.  For example, we can answer the question of whether obesity lowers or increases the safety of an MRI for certain body types.  At first glance, it looked like having more body fat was actually a good thing, and those with leaner bodies and more muscle tissue were more affected.  The new generations of MRI devices have quite different excitation technologies in order to among other things, speed up image taking, and these new machines need to be tested for safety.    MRI manufacturers must prove to the FDA that they have covered all types of scenarios and this tool will make it easier for manufacturers to do just that, which in turn translates to better patient safety.  A win-win in my book!


Manuel Murbach accepts his certificate, $1200 prize money and book entitled “Dosimetry in Electromagnetics”, donated by Dr. Marko Markov

“In the end, we are moving in the right direction and this study could potentially lead to a new protocol on how to measure MRI safety on ALL body types, whether we have more or less muscle tissue, whether we have a very slight frame and not much fat around our organs, or if there is a lot of fat tissue”, says Manuel.  All of these factors can impact the effect an MRI can have on tissue and organs.

For Manuel, having a young student award stimulates creativity and energizes meetings.  It motivates young scientists to do their best and gives a certain environment of positive challenge and competition to the meetings, something that is very important in getting our younger scientists interested and involved.   I love to hear this and cannot wait to award our Third Annual Arthur Pilla Young Scientist Award in Slovenia next year!  So get your submissions in soon and see you in Slovenia!


For those very young scientists out there, it’s always interesting to find out how a scientist arrived at their present day activity.  In Manuel’s case, he started in electro-technical engineering studies, which he did not fully enjoy.  He ended up earning a Master’s Degree in Biomedical technology.   “The interaction between tech and humans is what I like”, says Manuel.  That, coupled with a love of teaching and social service is why Manuel does what he does today.  Manuel is currently working at The Foundation for Research on Information Technologies in Society (IT’IS) – a non profit organization dedicated to improving our quality of life by enhancing the safety and quality of emerging electromagnetic technologies.  Read about his latest study here.


Written by:  Astrid Pilla, President of the Arthur Pilla Research Foundation.  © June 2018

1st Annual Memorial Race in honor of Dr. Arthur Pilla sponsored by NASAne

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Join us for the First Annual Memorial Race in honor of Dr. Arthur Pilla sponsored by the National Auto Sport Association Northeast Region on Saturday June 17, 2017!  NASAne has generously offered to host this yearly event in memory of Dr. Pilla and in support of the Arthur Pilla Research Foundation created by his family in his honor.

Dr. Pilla has had a long-standing relationship with NASAne, and in fact the relationship first began with the Z Club of America back in the early 80’s.   Joe Casella, currently Regional Director of NASAne, and Art remained friends through the Z Club of America, and then later through its transition to the Performance Driver’s Association (PDA).  Art was also on hand to see the transition of the PDA to the NASAne franchise.   Always willing to jump into a car to help instruct, especially into 911’s due to his long-standing racing experience with 911 turbos, Art will be sorely missed here at NASAne.  Art was also a long-time member of the Porsche Club of America, Northern New Jersey Region (NNJR- PCA).

Special Race Car Appearance  – Pace Car for Saturday’s race 

Dr. Pilla had a few unfinished ideas and projects both in the laboratory and on the racetrack at the moment of his passing in October 2015.  One of these projects was to build a race car from a salvaged 1971 911 RSR body that he had recently found.  Dr. Pilla’s family decided to complete the car in his honor, and it’s inaugural unveiling will be during the weekend of the NASAne June 16-18, 2017 race/HPDE weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park on the Thunderbolt track.  It will also be acting as the official pace car for Saturday’s Race with Dr. Pilla’s daughter and grandson as driver and passenger.  Please stop by all weekend to take your photo with the #12 car!


Dr. Pilla’s 1971 911 RSR project car

NASAne will be hosting a raffle on Saturday June 18th with all proceeds going directly to the Arthur Pilla Research Foundation and will help fund the Arthur Pilla Young Scientist Award!  You’ll have a chance to win a Free Track Day hosted by NASAne and other cool prizes!  Raffle winners will be drawn at the awards ceremony on Saturday.

Please consider donating in support of young scientists around the world.

Saturday’s raffle is not the only opportunity to help support the Arthur Pilla Research Foundation.   You can donate directly and read all about the Foundation at  Your donation directly helps fund the Annual Arthur Pilla Young Scientist Award in support of young Ph.D. scientists in the field of electrotherapeutics and is awarded yearly at the annual meeting between the  Bioelectromagnetics Society and the European Bioelectromagnetics Association, this year taking place in China!

Many of you will remember Dr. Pilla’s enthusiastic personality and his ever-willingness to lend a hand with boundless energy.  This was the case both in his profession and at the racetrack.  Throughout his lifetime, he has helped countless patients with little hope in healing a hard- to – heal broken bone using pulsed electro-magnetic fields.  He has helped patients in pain suffer less and take far less prescription pain medicine than normally taken after surgery.  In fact some of you may even have one of his coils to this day.

On behalf of NASAne and the Arthur Pilla Research Foundation, thank you for helping us honor this great man who will be sorely missed both in the racing community and in the world of scientific research in electrotherapeutics.

Please visit this page to leave your tribute to Dr. Arthur Pilla if you knew him from his racing days.

Please visit this page to leave your tribute to Dr. Arthur Pilla if you knew him from his scientific research days.


When and Where is the event taking place? 

The Memorial Race takes place on Saturday, June 17, 2017 at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, NJ. Address: 8000 Dividing Creek Road, Millville, NJ 08332.  Race time will be posted here as soon as it becomes available.

I’d like to attend the Memorial Race but I am not signed up for the event- can I still attend?

Yes!  Guests are welcome!  Simply drive to the main gate and say you are with NASA.  You will need to sign an NJMP waiver at the front gate, then proceed to the THUNDERBOLT racetrack.  Once parked, come to the NASA REGISTRATION desk and sign the secondary NASA waiver to get a WRISTBAND.

Does the event cost anything? 

No, it’s free to come out on race day!  We hope that you will buy a raffle ticket instead to support the Arthur Pilla Research Foundation.

I’ve never experienced racing before.  Any chance I can experience what it’s all about?  

Yes!  Sign up for Hyperdrive!  For $50 you can experience 20 minutes of track driving with a certified instructor.  ** Must bring your own car!  Can be any type of car.

Further Questions?  Feel free to contact us!

Meet the very first Arthur Pilla Young Scientist Award recipient

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Pictured left to right:  Astrid Pilla, Founder of the Arthur Pilla Research Foundation, Esin Sözer, First Young Scientist Award winner and Dr. Nam Kim, President of BEMS

The very first Annual Arthur Pilla Young Scientist Award winner was announced on June 10, 2016 in Ghent, Belgium during the joint Annual BioEM2016 meeting between the Bioelectromagnetics Society (BEMS) and the European BioElectromagnetics Association (EBEA).   Esin Sözer, a postdoctoral research scientist in the Nanoscale Bioelectrical Physics laboratory at the Old Dominion University Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics in Norfolk, VA, presented her poster entitled Transmembrane voltage and small molecule transport after 6 ns electropermeabilization and won over the judges with her clear, outstanding presentation and findings.

I consider myself very lucky to have met such a bright young scientist and know Dr. Pilla would have been thrilled to see her enthusiasm and passion in her field.  Here are excerpts from two interviews I had with Ms. Sözer, via Skype and email:

Astrid:  Congratulations, Esin!  I am thrilled that you won the very first Arthur Pilla Young Scientist Award!  I am glad we were able to speak briefly before catching your flight back home from Gent!  
Esin:  Thank you so much.  I am thrilled to have received this award and want to thank you and your family for your support- it truly means a lot and it will help me very much in being able to present my research and travel to meetings such as this one.
Astrid: What brought you into the field of Bioelectromagnetics?
Esin: I was introduced to Bioelectrics during my Ph.D. at Dr. Martin Gundersen’s Pulsed Power group at the University of Southern California in 2008. My current supervisor Dr. Tom Vernier was working with Dr. Gundersen and I thought it was very cool. But my actual participation in the field started when I was offered the current post-doctoral position at Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics by Tom. I moved to Norfolk from Los Angeles after finishing another postdoc in accelerator physics at UCLA in 2014. The intersection of biology and physics has always been fascinating to me; I was very happy to learn I really enjoyed the research in this field and did not mind spending few extra hours in the lab if necessary. It is a blessing to work daily on things that stimulate and excite me.
Astrid: What is the first thing you think of when you hear Dr. Arthur Pilla’s name? 
Esin: My history in bioelectrics is relatively short, since 2014, and this was my very first BioEM meeting in 2016.  But I do know Dr. Pilla has done work in bone repair using electrical stimulation. I am grateful to his legacy and family for supporting young scientists. Young scientists, especially post-docs, often work long hours with very modest income, but we are driven to study, discover and share science. Awards like this are certainly very beneficial as a reminder that our efforts are being recognized and appreciated.
Astrid: How did you come up with the idea for your winning study, “Transmembrane Voltage and Small Molecule Transport after 6 ns Electropermeabilization”
Esin: I have been doing experiments trying to measure molecular transport into cells after very small electrical pulse exposures. I wanted to do very precise quantitative measurements so that we can compare the results to theoretical calculations and simulations. I tried using different molecules to do these measurements and noticed very different behavior in how much different molecules of similar size go into the cells. This gave us the idea that molecular transport into cells after electric field exposure is not only dependent on the size of molecules but also there can be some active cellular mechanisms that are contributing based on the charge of the molecules. This idea was not investigated before, and traditional understanding of mechanisms assumed the size of the molecule to be the main determining factor for transport amount.
Astrid: In terms of your conclusion, what do your findings mean to the scientific community?   What could they mean to patients and the public?
Esin: As we understand molecular transport due to electrical pulse exposure (electroporation) better, we have more chance to develop technologies that can deliver specific therapeutic agents into cells. Current electroporation-based technologies utilize purely empirical protocols in the clinic. Clinicians and scientists, we all would like to expand our understanding how these technologies work at a cellular level and improve our predictive capability of if/when they might fail, so we can be more beneficial to patients and the public.
Announcement of Esin’s achievement on the Frank Reidy Old Dominion University post-doctoral website.

The second Annual Arthur Pilla Young Scientist Award will take place at the BioEM2017 Meeting in Hangzhou, China June 5-9,2017. Don’t forget to make your contribution to the Arthur Pilla Research Foundation to support young scientists at this annual event! Donate today!
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The Arthur A. Pilla Research Foundation

Welcome to the Arthur A. Pilla Research Foundation, a non-profit 501 (c) (3) public corporation dedicated to ensuring the continuation of Dr. Pilla’s life’s work and calling:  Healing, wound repair and pain management using Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMF) and helping student scientists and colleagues around the world continue promising research in the field of electrotherapeutics.  His discoveries on the effect of Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) on biological systems have led to concrete clinical use in many areas including orthopedics, reconstructive plastic surgery and even veterinary use.  The incredibly important work of Dr. Pilla will continue thanks to this Foundation.

We are thrilled to announce the creation of the Arthur A Pilla Young Scientist Award, sponsored by the BioElectromagnetics Society (BEMS) and the European BioElectromagnetics Association (EBEA).  This award recognizes an outstanding student research presentation at the Annual joint BioEM meeting between the two societies and will be awarded for the first time at the BioEM2016 meeting in Ghent, Belgium in June 2016.  In the future, we envision both Scholarships and Grants to be established in order to help ongoing studies in the field of Electrotherapeutics, specifically the healing effects of PEMF on biological systems.  This yearly Award is dedicated to Dr. Arthur A. Pilla’s memory as one of the earliest members of BEMS, an International Society with members from over 40 countries.

Dr. Pilla dedicated his career to researching the biological effects of electromagnetic fields and how he might help heal a variety of ailments in numerous areas of medicine. Dr. Pilla invented the first FDA-approved bone healing device using Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMF).  This device was designed to help difficult to heal fractures, or nonunions.  His discoveries resulted in the creation of an entire industry in Electrotherapeutics.  Studies in areas from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) to Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s stand to benefit from ongoing research on the effect of PEMF on biological systems.   We already know that PEMF can provide pain relief and promote healing by reducing inflammation.  This can lead to decrease healing time and decreased use of prescription pain medications.  As we continue to support promising research of young scientists all over the world studying the biological effects of PEMF, together we can jump into the future of phases of Electrotherapeutics.

The Arthur A. Pilla Research Foundation was established by Dr. Pilla’s family in order to support ongoing research in the field of Electrotherapeutics and to support young scientists around the world.   Please consider making your donation today!  The Arthur A. Pilla Research Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) Public Charity and all donations are tax deductible (Tax ID# 47-5369591).

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If you would prefer to send a check by mail, please send your donation made out to:

The Arthur A Pilla Research Fund 

1800 Jonathan Way, #1320

Reston, VA 20190


Thank you for supporting the Arthur A Pilla Research Foundation!