Alumnus, researcher develops Ebola virus disinfectant system
A group of Massachusetts researchers at the United States Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center, including Brandeis alumnus Dr. Christopher Doona MA ’89 Ph.D. ’91, have developed “a next-generation disinfectant system that kills the Ebola virus on surfaces,” according to an Oct. 21 Army press release.
Doona holds both a Master of Arts degree and a doctorate in Chemistry from Brandeis and works as a chemist at the NSRDEC. Along with fellow researcher Florence Feeherry, Doona engineered a disinfectant that can be used to safely and effectively sterilize equipment used to treat Ebola patients. The patented technology is already being used to combat the disease in West Africa by doctors and aid workers, according to the press release.
The disinfectant uses chlorine dioxide to kill bacteria and viruses without the use of power or electricity. It does not pose a hazard to human or environmental health, according to the army press release. New Jersey-based company ClorDiSys Solutions is currently producing and marketing the disinfectant.
According to its website, the NSRDEC specializes in developing decontamination technologies that help keep soldiers safe while at war. The center uses research and development to “maximize the warfighter’s survivability, sustainability, mobility, combat effectiveness, and field quality of life.”
Over the years, NSRDEC has developed crucial military innovations, including shelter systems, ballistic and chemical protection systems, clothing for soldiers and enhanced food technologies. According to an Army Technology online article, NSRDEC’s mission also includes “disaster response, humanitarian aid, peacekeeping efforts, and low intensity conflicts,” in addition to making their technologies available to other groups, such as consumers, astronauts and police officers.
Doona received the Outstanding Service Award from the Non-thermal Processing Division of the Institute of Food Technologists for his work with the Molecular Sciences and Engineering Team contributing to the accessibility of safe food around the world, according to a Jun. 2013 U.S. Army press release.
The Ebola disinfectant system is preceded by previous technology developed by Doona and other researchers at NSRDEC, including a 2006 portable chemical sterilizer for medical equipment in combat environments.
Like the Ebola system, both disinfectants do not require electricity to use and are portable for army medics in the field.