Two USF faculty—a trailblazer in auditory systems and therapeutic interventions, and a pioneer in cancer treatment—were among the 2023 Fellows elected to the IEEE, one of the world’s most prestigious technological societies.
Dr. Robert Frisina is a distinguished professor and department chair of medical engineering in the College of Engineering and Morsani College of Medicine. He was recognized for his distinguished contributions in neuroengineering and auditory sciences, especially age-related hearing loss causes and treatments.
Dr. Richard Heller, professor of medical engineering in the College of Engineering and Morsani College of Medicine, was recognized for his contributions to medical engineering for therapeutic applications. He is also a pioneer in developing efficient delivery systems for plasmid DNA and chemotherapeutics, and is known internationally as a leading expert in gene electrotransfer.
“It is an honor that two USF faculty have been elected as IEEE Fellows. This is a highly esteemed award that shines a light on the work these faculty are doing to help improve quality of life and advance medical science,” stated Dr. Sylvia W. Thomas, Interim Vice President for Research and Innovation.
Meet this year’s USF honorees:
College of Engineering
Robert D. Frisina, Ph.D. is a Distinguished University Professor and Director of the
Global Center for Hearing & Speech Research. He holds joint professorships in the
departments of Medical Engineering, Chemical & Biomedical Engineering, and Communication
Sciences and Disorders, and serves as the Chair of the Medical Engineering Department
and Director of Biomedical Engineering. Frisina leads the largest, longest running
NIH-funded research program on Age-Related Hearing Loss (ARHL) in the U.S. and the
largest study on ARHL in the world. His team’s research has produced a number of breakthroughs
in the field, including the identification of molecular and neural mechanisms of ARHL;
the discovery of neurodegenerative processes of ARHL as related to the aging brain;
the characterization of specific genes connected to ARHL in humans and animal models;
and groundbreaking developments of drug delivery options for the inner ear. He is
a Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the American Institute for Medical
& Biological Engineering, the Acoustical Society of America, and the American Academy
of Otolaryngology (Scientific Fellow). He is also a Senior Member of the Institute
of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the National Academy of Inventors. Frisina
holds an A.B. from Hamilton College in experimental psychology and economics, and
a Ph.D. in bioengineering from the Institute for Sensory Research at Syracuse University.
Morsani College of Medicine
Richard Heller, Ph.D., is Professor of Medical Engineering at the University of South Florida. Heller is recognized as a pioneer in developing efficient delivery systems for plasmid DNA and chemotherapeutics, and the leading expert in gene electrotransfer. He demonstrated that plasmid DNA can be delivered to a variety of tissue targets including tumors (melanoma, hepatocellular carcinoma, pancreatic, etc), skin, muscle, liver and heart. For more than 30 years, his research has focused on evaluating the use of pulse electric fields to manipulate biological cells and tissues, in particular, developing in vivo delivery procedures for non-viral gene transfer for enhancing immunotherapy for cancer treatment. He is the recipient of the Iwao Yasuda Award from Society for Physical Regulation in Biology and Medicine, Society for In Vitro Biology Distinguished Service Award, Honor B. Fell Award from the Tissue Culture Association, Frank Reidy Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Bioelectrics, Robert J. Grasso Award for Outstanding Dedication to Graduate Education, and Eminent Scholar designation from Old Dominion University, among many other awards. He holds 40 U.S. patents, 17 of which have been licensed to 4 companies. He has published more than 167 articles, books, and book chapters; serves as editorial board member for six journals, and reviewer for more than a dozen additional journals, including PNAS, as well as for NIH Study Sections, the DOD and ACGT. Heller is Fellow, Society for In Vitro Biology; IEEE Senior Member; & Charter Member USF NAI Chapter.