Donald S. Hetzel, PhD

CEO and President
VirWall Systems Inc.

Donald S. Hetzel, PhDDonald S. Hetzel, PhD

Dr. Donald Hetzel’s career path is replete with success after success – as head of research and development for international pharmaceutical and medical device corporations, as director of licensing operations to identify and acquire promising new technologies and as CEO of several startups in the US and abroad. Over the years his work in scientific research and development has resulted in significant advances in medical products including orthopedic implants, diagnostic kits for infectious diseases, pregnancy tests, technology for amplifying DNA for more accurate analysis, the development of an “electronic nose” to help diagnose infection and disease, advances in the fight against malaria and innovations in measuring disease markers including blood glucose levels.

Now, as CEO and President of VirWall Systems Inc., he’s blended several areas of scientific expertise en route to introducing the first in an expected portfolio of UV-based products aimed at reducing the number and spectrum of bacteria and viruses that can easily proliferate on common items in everyday use. The first product, which has been well received at trade shows, is the VirWall Keyboard Sanitizer (KBS-1). The prototype has been shown in independent laboratory tests to inactivate 99.99% of bacteria and viruses commonly found on computer keyboards.

“While most of us are quick to suspect a co-worker’s sneezes and coughs, or a resistant strain of the flu to trigger illness and absenteeism,” Dr. Hetzel explains, “we are often oblivious to the problems that keyboard bacteria and viruses can unleash – especially pathogens in a hospital setting, or in offices or schools where the computers are shared among multiple users. Truly, the keyboard can operate as the Typhoid Mary of our times – stealthy and silently transmitting pathogens from user to user, student to parent, healthcare worker to patient and on and on,” he adds.

“If I were to swab the keys of your computer, let’s say from ‘A’ to ‘Enter’ and stain a culture from the sample,” he notes, “you would be amazed and possibly frightened by the germ count and variety. Staph, e-coli, influenza A, salmonella, rotavirus, norovirus even MRSA can be breeding there – especially on shared-use computers and easily on computers where the user eats at his or her desk,” explains the scientist.

Dr. Hetzel is quick to point out that not all is doom and gloom.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak,” he laughs.

“A single 45-second illumination with the Keyboard Sanitizer can inactivate the types of bacteria and viruses we find on keyboards,” he says. “What’s more, the device offers the kind of ease of use, safety, consistency, speed and effectiveness that disinfectant wipes or liquids are unable to offer due to human variability and error in application.”

Dr. Hetzel also points out an additional advantage of UV over antibacterial wipes and gels: “Because UV light disables the DNA of the pathogen, you won’t run the risk of developing superbugs as has been traced to the overuse of antibiotics. This is a significant plus.”

Dr. Hetzel added that a number of hospital systems have expressed interest in using the VirWall Keyboard Sanitizer to reduce the risk of infection from pathogens on computer keyboards.

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Product Fact Sheet

VirWall Keyboard Sanitizer

VirWall Keyboard Sanitizer KBS-1

Purpose of Product

To sanitize computer keyboards as a measure of preventing the spread of potentially pathogenic organisms

Reason for Development

Dr. John Roberts, inventor of the Keyboard Sanitizer, had never been as sick, as frequently, or for such long durations as when his son attended elementary school, a school with computer classrooms. In reading scientific journals to better understand how bacteria and viruses are transmitted, he learned that certain inanimate objects…

Principle of Action

Ultraviolet (UV) light causes molecular rearrangement of a microorganism’s DNA which prevents it from reproducing and therefore renders it microbiologically dead. The effectiveness of UV energy on microbial destruction is dependent upon intensity and time…