International Scholar Spotlight Series - Ekrem Ozkan
From compass compass
Welcome to our International Scholar Spotlight Series!
Ekrem Ozkan, a Post Doctoral Research Associate at the College of Engineering’s Handa Biomaterials Lab, is originally from Turkey and has joined UGA after living several years in London. Because of his international living experience, it wasn’t as difficult for Ekram to adjust to life in the U.S., but he has still had to overcome challenges such as limited transportation, healthcare expenses, and homesickness.
Watch his interview with UGA’s Immigration Services graduate assistant: Denish Khetan, and read about his exciting research work below! UGA is fortunate to have the contributions of this international scholar!
Despite decades of bioengineering research and a solid understanding of blood mechanisms and surface interactions, the ideal non-thrombogenic infection-resistant surface remains an unsolved problem. Thrombogenicity and infections are two major complications associated with indwelling medical devices and can lead to devise failure, patient mortality, and morbidity. Current technologies for preventing these complications face limitations such as single functionality, short-term efficacy, limited success, large-scale feasibility, complex processes, specialized equipment, and also may cause adverse side effects. Spurred by a love of chemistry and passion for addressing real-world challenges and issues, the prime focus of Ekrem Ozkan’s postdoctoral research is centered on developing novel routes toward blood and bacteria repellent surfaces to decrease the morbidity, mortality, and hospitalization costs associated with medical devices by reducing fouling, infection, and thrombosis.After joining Dr. Handa’s lab, Ekram stretched his group research in new directions by working on the efficacious anti-wetting surfaces to enhance the biocompatibility of existing medical-grade materials and devices. Notably, Ekrams’ work as a postdoc was published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces (I.F: 9.2), showing that the combination of liquid repellency and antibacterial nanoparticles can endow surfaces with antiadhesive properties that not only repel various liquids, including whole blood but also resist adhesion of blood components and bacteria in addition to showing potent bactericidal activity without being toxic to mammalian cells. This was the first published paper based on superhydrophobic antifouling coatings in the research group and it received high media attention, increasing awareness concerning his work, both within and outside the scientific community. It is also noteworthy that UGA has filed a patent application based on this work. Ekram’s recent first-author manuscript was accepted for publication in the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science (I.F: 8.1), exploring novel bioinspired ultra-low coatings to reduce medical device-associated infections and thrombosis. In addition, Ekram presented this work at Georgia Bio Innovation Summit 2021. Three first-author manuscripts are also scheduled for submission to highly recognized peer-reviewed journals, which are based on the combination of antifouling surfaces with antimicrobial and anti-thrombogenic properties.
Ekram places high importance on research for the benefit of society and seeks solutions to real-world problems through each of his projects and research ideas. Hence, his overarching research career goal is to become a clinically oriented, translational research expert in the field of biocompatible materials and to head a research team of basic and clinical researchers. This team will work towards developing blood-contacting devices, which will make a significant positive impact on the lives of patients. To achieve this goal, Ekram has recently submitted an NIH K99 proposal to gain the technical, comprehensive communication, and management skills required to lead a multidisciplinary team and become a leading independent investigator in the biomedical field. The proposed novel approach will be the first to combine nitric oxide-generation technology with an antifouling liquid-infused slippery surface and will open up new opportunities in the design of next-generation indwelling medical devices with reduced complications along with the associated morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs.
If you are interested in participating in the Scholar Spotlight Series, please let us know here: