VASCULARGROWTH : Bioengineering prediction of three-dimensional vascular growth and remodeling in embryonic great-vessel development
ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2014 ⇒ KidsSurgicalPlan : An Internet Enterprise for Sketch-based Cardiovascular Pre-surgical Planning
ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2020 ⇒ BloodTurbine : Fully implantable patient-specific Artificial Hearts without External Power
Prof. Pekkan (also leading Koç University’s Biofluids and Cardiovascular Mechanics Laboratory) started his ERC journey with the funding of VASCULARGROWTH in ERC Starting Grant 2012, one of the first two ERC grantees ever hosted in Türkiye.
The action was addressing the problem of congenital heart defects in children (each year around 47.000 children in the EU suffer from this condition) from a biomechanical engineering standpoint. His proposal aimed to develop a comprehensive and predictive understanding of the biomechanics and regulation of great-vessel development and its plasticity in response to clinically relevant epigenetic changes in loading conditions.
Prof. Pekkan’s research led to an innovation potential, which he pursued through two Proof Concept grants, awarded in 2014 and 2020. Earlier, he worked on the development of a computerized system to optimise paediatric cardiovascular surgeries. This new innovative technology is based on 3D modelling and allows clinicians, using an interactive web interface, to sketch and quickly implement an intervention the same way they would communicate it to their fellow clinicians or bioengineers. The main strength of this technique is that it incorporates 3D modelling, helping surgeons to estimate 3D vessel anatomy post-surgery before in vivo execution.
Currently, through BloodTurbine, Prof. Pekkan is exploiting another path towards health innovation, working on a new blood turbine device that aims to overcome the current limitations (power needs, infection risk, reduced patient mobility) of long-term mechanical circulatory support (MCS) for heart patients. The new design will be able to drive MCS by transferring the available cardiovascular energy to the diseased site without the need of external power.
“In BloodTurbine, we are going to develop a heart pump that does not require electricity and control. It will not have cables and cords that needs to be installed within the body, which usually hinder the patient's mobility. Our blood turbine will be cost effective and have a great impact on patient welfare.``