PhD student José Valdez successfully defends dissertation

January 22, 2021 — University of Minnesota Biomedical Engineering PhD student José M. Valdez successfully defended his dissertation, "Impact of Blood Rheology on Chronic and Systemic Effects in Sickle Cell Disease" this week. He was advised by Dave Wood.

Following is an abstract of his dissertation:

In sickle cell disease, blood rheological changes driven by oxygen-dependent effects in red blood cell mechanics are critical for understanding patient pathophysiology. Existent research has focused on the contributions of rheological and single cell changes to disease pathology however their emphasis has been on acute, proximal effects leaving systemic, chronic issues unaddressed. In addition, the methodology of many of these studies have lacked physiological relevance and model systems that offer the tunability and observational capacity to understand the fundamental mechanisms of sickle cell disease. To address many of these issues, in this dissertation, we present a series of studies with the main goals of: 1) developing model systems to characterize the physiologically relevant behaviors of sickle rheology, 2) quantification of different features of rheological behavior and their relevance to patients, and 3) identification of biomarkers that offer clinical course predictability, evaluation of patient complications, and treatment regimens. Together, these studies contribute to furthering the understanding of sickle rheology and improving patient care.