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UB, You First Services complete air-sterilization project at Niagara Falls Memorial


Published February 13, 2024

Satish Sharma.
“SteriSpace can be a standalone unit for individual spaces or can scale up to be integrated into a building’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. ”
Satish Sharma, research associate professor of urology and chairman and CEO
You First Services Inc.

UB’s Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences (CIGBS) and You First Services Inc., a research and development company, are introducing air-sterilization technology for hospitals, schools and other settings.

The technology, called SteriSpace, works by eliminating aerosolized microbes, including viruses.

The partners recently completed a demonstration project at Schoellkopf Health Center in Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. The work was facilitated by Rethink Western New York Community Health Collaborative.

ACS Labs, a Grand Island-based company, collected the baseline air samples within 48 hours from the common areas of this long-term care facility, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Preliminary test results show no microbial growth.

“With SteriSpace implemented to optimize air quality, no detectable growth of bacterial spores was observed using field conditions that reflect daily indoor traffic patterns,” says Gene D. Morse, SUNY Distinguished Professor, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “These findings came despite numerous potentially complicating variables beyond the project design’s control, such as routine infrastructure issues.”

Morse directs CIGBS; serves on the advisory board of You First Services, which is based in Cheektowaga; and is co-director of Rethink Western New York.

The City of Niagara Falls and You First Services Inc. funded the demonstration project.

“SteriSpace can be a standalone unit for individual spaces or can scale up to be integrated into a building’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system,” explains Satish Sharma, chairman and chief executive officer of You First Services and research associate professor of urology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB. “It will effectively safeguard larger spaces by eliminating aerosolized microbes, thus ensuring environmental safety and much-needed protection from airborne microbes.”

Organizers designed the project by expanding prior, independent, third-party studies in a real-world scenario.

“We are very impressed with the air-sterilization system that has been operating at the Schoellkopf Health Center,” says Sheila Kee, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. “We plan to work with You First Services to seek grants that will allow the system to be implemented in other high-risk areas of Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.”

To ensure a wider and quicker implementation of the technology, Sharma says they are looking into federal, state and local funding.

Morse co-founded Rethink Western New York in 2020 with Rolanda L. Ward, associate professor of social work and endowed faculty director of the Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko Center for Race, Equity and Mission at Niagara University.

“Rethink Western New York plans to work with other health care facilities and community centers to expand the evaluation of air-sterilization approaches that could play a role in ongoing and future outbreaks from airborne pathogens such as we experienced during COVID-19,” Morse says. “The next thing is to get a larger sample size.”

You First Services and Rethink Western New York already are in discussions with local K-12 schools, other health care organizations, senior care facilities and the Department of Defense.

“Armed forces hospitals, on and off the battlefield, would benefit from having the air sterilized,” Morse says. “Schools are most concerned about air quality in their classrooms, cafeterias and gyms.”

Finally, he notes there is discussion about linking the SteriSpace technology with members of CIGBS’s global program.

“We’re exploring how to get this technology to countries that can really use it,” Morse says. “For instance, infectious diseases like tuberculosis are still very common in South Africa. There is definitely potential for global expansion. This is just the beginning.”