Ani Aprahamian, Freimann Professor of Physics at the University of Notre Dame, is presently on leave in Armenia as a Fulbright Fellow, where she serves as the Director of Armenia's Alikhanyan National Laboratory in Yerevan. After successfully starting a program in nuclear medicine at the newly installed Cyclone-18 accelerator towards the production of radioisotopes with the local team, she has gone on to use the laboratory’s resources to fight the impact of COVID-19 in Armenia.
Prompted by an Armenian doctor at the Yale Medical School, Aprahamian and her team developed a program that sterilizes materials, equipment, and hospital rooms using ozone gas produced by the ionization of room air. It took just three days for the group to build an ozone generator from various scrap pieces in the laboratory. The Ministry of Health learned of the device and requested an additional 20 ozonators to provide sufficient sterilization capability for the many hundreds of quarantined people’s quarters in Armenia. In parallel, the team also built a 2 meter x 0.5m UV-C sterilization box to sanitize used masks and PPE. Next they plan to develop an inexpensive respirator system for patients with respiratory distress.