Dr. Frank LaBella
Frank S. LaBella
Professor Emeritus- Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics
University of Manitoba
B.A., M.A., Wesleyan University
Ph.D., Emory University


Canada and United States

B.A., M.A., Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT 
Ph.D., Emory University, Atlanta, GA

RESEARCH AREAS. Neuropharmacology. Narcotic drugs and endorphins. Mechanisms of general anesthesia. Neuroendocrinology. Neurochemistry. Neurotoxicology. Digitalis drugs. Receptor Pharmacology. Aging. Cytochrome P450. Histamine as a second messenger. Novel technology to measure electromagnetic radiation from matter.

For some time early in my career, I had the opportunity to exploit my tendency to study anything that caught my fancy, found irresistible to pursue and further energized my insatiable curiosity. My research publication profile reflects that characteristic. For the past few years, my research has focused, in collaboration with a talented and tireless engineer colleague, on constructing a novel, highly versatile electronic sensor, whose origins arose from one of my laboratory sideline projects.


Detection of Electromagnetic Fields. Canadian office (# 2183742) 1995. European office (# 0746773), Aug 2000; U.S office (#6,150,812), Nov. 2000. 
Digitalis-like steroid compounds. US. #5,144,017, 1992, #5,270,457,1993

PUBLICATIONS  PubMed: see LaBella, F.
219 scientific research papers, book chapters, scientific reviews


  • Established Investigator of the American Heart Association,. Five-year term 
  • Career Investigator of the Medical Research Council of Canada 
  • Dr. and Mrs. Ralph Campbell Outreach Award  "To recognize University of Manitoba Staff who have been particularly meritorious in their contributions to the community at large". For participation in environmental issues. 
  • John J. Abel Award of the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics "For original, outstanding research by a young investigator in pharmacology and/or experimental therapeutics" 
  • E.W.R. Steacie Prize in the Natural Sciences "Awarded to a person under age 40 who has made notable contributions to research in Canada. 
  • Upjohn Award of the Pharmacological Society of Canada, "For significant contributions to the advancement and extension of knowledge in the field of pharmacology and toxicology in Canada". 
  • Sigma Xi Award for Research, University of Manitoba Chapter
  • International Award of the St. Boniface General Hospital Research Foundation, One of four Manitoba researchers honored to celebrate the centennial of the Faculty of Medicine. "To honour individuals who have made, through their genius, talent and energy, an outstanding contribution to health care".

No new  Einsteins  to emerge if science funding snubs curiosity
Frank LaBella.   The Conversation.    Aug 3, 2017 .

How home security resembles dancing honeybees.  
Frank LaBella.   The Conversation.  Aug 14, 2017 .

Science lesson: How anesthetics work, and why xenon’s perfect.
Frank LaBella.  The Conversation.  Sept. 10, 2017.

LaBella, F.; Fernandes, F.. A Molecular Basis of Olfaction: Odorant-Specific Electric-Field Emission. Preprints 2018, 2018090068 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201809.0068.v1).

Malathion for Mosquito Control in Winnipeg

Mosquito Control in Winnipeg


I think it useful to briefly point out some physics upon which the electric field sensor is based.

All matter is constantly absorbing and emitting light. The spectrum of the emitted light is specific to every atom and molecule because of its specific complement of electrons. A photon of light is a propagating, alternating magnetic and electromagnetic fields.

When the photon hits a barrier, container or wall, only the electric field will penetrate because the electric charge on one side of the wall is transmitted across the wall which also has an electric field. That is why home security devices rely on that principle and the rely on electric field sensors. The human or animal  motion disturbs the electric field because of its component molecules. Electric field sensors are currently used to monitor, across walls, the positions of of elderly individuals and patients, among other applications.

We have refined the sensor to such a sensitivity  that it can zero in and detect the individual molecular emission.

For example, radioactive hydrogen, tritium, radioactive carbon, C14, are routinely used to label chemicals in order to study their metabolism in the body of animals and man. Because the energies emitted by those two isotopes are so weak they cannot penetrate a paper envelope. Very expensive liquid scintillation counters must be employed. Tissue samples must be homogenized and mixed with a scintillating fluid with which the radioactive particle interacts and gives off a spark of light. Virtually every biomedical laboratory uses those two isotopes. There must be many thousands of these instruments worldwide. Our sensor can detect those radioactive emissions directly and from any distance. The cost of the sensor is remarkably low.

Another application of interest to the military or homeland security: if terrorists were to bring into a port  a container with a nuclear device, current technology would be able to detect it no further than 10 yards away. Our sensor will detect any type of radiation from any distance. We can demonstrate this feature in a large room or hallway to simulate a long distance from the source.

Other: Screening of luggage and carry-on at airports. Non-invasive observation of emission from different areas of the brain.

The SigmaPlots have proven valuable to guide the development  of  hardware and software.

Ultimately, a library is created of established, digital molecular signatures. For example, signatures of each of  the known explosives used by terrorists are deposited in the library and rapid scanning of a wide area that encompasses vehicles or persons. If the scan recognizes a substance encoded in the library, an alert will sound.










Dr. Frank S. LaBella
Area of research:  Molecular pharmacology

In the news....

Marks of Achievement

Dr. Frank S. LaBella celebrates 50 year anniversary as academic in Pharmacology

UofM Pharmacology Prof. Frank LaBella develops revolutionary technology.