Drexel University is a comprehensive national research institution in Philadelphia that has grown substantially in the past 10 years. In 2004, the Drexel University College of Medicine (formerly MCP Hahnemann College of Medicine) was consolidated into Drexel University, and in 2006 the Drexel University College of Law was established. During this period, Drexel experienced significant growth in its research enterprise with externally-funded research expenditures increasing six-fold to more than $100 million annually.
Drexel has built this research base by performing applied, solution-based research as well as generating new knowledge through basic research programs. Drexel's new strategic plan expands upon this mission with a commitment to use-inspired, interdisciplinary research that addresses practical solutions to complex societal issues. Drexel's approach to building its research enterprise continues to lead to an increase in the commercialization of technologies that has resulted in their transfer into the public sector to the benefit of society and economic development in Greater Philadelphia.
Fundamental to Drexel's use-inspired research enterprise is the development of expert interdisciplinary teams. Drexel has initiated a process to identify Major Research Initiatives: multidisciplinary programs that research critical issues. As a result, Drexel has initiated Major Research Initiatives in electron plasma medicine, neuroengineering of brain-machine interfaces and the growth of urban centers.
The Plasma Medicine and Biology Initiative is exploring novel research and applications of electron plasma for medical purposes, including rapid and safe blood coagulation that can be used for injuries sustained in emergency situations, prevention of infection in wounds such as diabetic ulcers or burns, and treatment of skin cancers such as melanoma by inducing the death of cancer cells that otherwise grow unchecked. Drexel researchers have also applied plasma technology to decontaminate and sterilize air, water, and non-living surfaces for safety and environmental purposes.
The Neuroengineering: Brain-Machine Interface Initiative is developing the knowledge and tools required to restore sensory and motor function to victims of spinal cord injury specifically related to the lower limbs. The interdisciplinary team performing this research is utilizing their expertise in motor and sensory systems, spinal cord injury, materials science, and rehabilitation sciences to achieve this goal.
An urban university, Drexel has also developed an Engineering Cities Initiative that addresses issues related to the massive growth in urban populations and the emergence of megacities with populations of more than 10 million people. This highly interdisciplinary program brings together expertise in civil and environmental engineering, architecture, energy, communications, information systems, public health and healthcare delivery, sustainability, education and policy to address issues related to the quality of life for urban residents.
The A.J. Drexel Institute for Nanotechnology is a leader in nanotechnology research and technology development. Drexel researchers were recently awarded a prestigious Keck Foundation grant to establish the Keck Institute of Attofluidic Nanotube-based Probes. An interdisciplinary team will perform research that could lead to breakthroughs in the development and application of sub-cellular tools that can be used to directly detect and treat diseases such as cancer at the cellular level. It could also dramatically improve the ability to detect toxins in air and water at the single- molecule level identifying a possible biological attack and other threats. Drexel is also a founding member of The Nanotechnology Institute, which has received substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to focus on the commercialization of research in nanotechnology to stimulate economic growth.
The Drexel research enterprise is an important component of the educational mission of the University that contributes to the training of the next generation of scientists and engineers. In addition to research training in our master's and Ph.D. graduate programs, undergraduates have ample opportunity to participate in exciting research projects, which encourages them to pursue goals that are important for our national competitiveness in the global economy.