The research conducted by Rahmi Oklu, M.D., Ph.D., is primarily based on patient-inspired bioengineering. As an interventional radiologist, Dr. Oklu treats a wide variety of disease conditions including venous and arterial disease and cancer; patients with these conditions are the inspiration for his research.
Dr. Oklu's work includes novel biomaterials as a tool to treat acute and chronic bleeding, bioengineering approaches to deliver and to capture drugs or byproducts of metabolism, biosensors on intravascular and indwelling catheters, and new medical devices for the treatment of venous thrombosis, catheter infections and obesity.
- Biomaterials. Dr. Oklu uses bioengineering approaches to treat vascular diseases such as acute and chronic bleeding, vascular malformations, varicose veins, aneurysms and cancer. Nanoparticles packaged with biocompatible materials are delivered using endovascular catheters to achieve embolization and to deliver targeted agents such as chemotherapy when treating cancer. These catheter-based biomaterials are easy to use, artifact-free on imaging, and the delivery is not time restricted, providing freedom to assess results during delivery and assess outcome accurately on follow-up imaging.
- Drug delivery and capture. Many promising drugs fail Phase 1 trials and many FDA-approved drugs are limited in use due to systemic toxicity. Novel concepts are being tested in large disease models to prevent systemic toxicity that often results from medical therapy.
- Venous thrombosis. Bioprinting technologies are being used to recreate blood vessels in order to study pathophysiology of thrombosis over time and to test innovative thrombolytic and thrombectomy technologies. These technologies are then tested in large disease models.
- Catheters. Catheters today act as a conduit for delivering medical therapy and extracting blood for diagnostics and dialysis. Dr. Oklu is using innovative bioengineering technologies to exploit these existing intravascular and indwelling catheters for treating a variety of acute and chronic diseases.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Oklu hopes that through his research, better minimally invasive medical devices will be developed to detect, diagnose, and treat acute and chronic diseases. A significant number of patients succumb to cancer, vascular disease and obesity, but through novel, patient-inspired bioengineering approaches, Dr. Oklu aims to treat or even cure common conditions that affect patients today.
- Investigator of the Year, Mayo Clinic Arizona, "Patient inspired engineering," 2022
- Co-Chair, Micro- and Nanotechnologies in Medicine, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2016-present
- Editor in Chief, Journal of Vascular Diagnostics and Interventions, 2014-present
- Recipient, Outstanding Young Clinician Award, Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology, Boston, Massachusetts, 2014
- Recipient, Junior Faculty Investigator Award, American College of Phlebology, 2011