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Alumni Spotlight: Evren Azeloglu, Ph.D.

Evren Azeloglu, Ph.D., graduated from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stony Brook University in 2002 (BE) and from the Department of Biomedical Engineering in 2004 (MS). After graduating he got his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Columbia University and did a Postdoctoral program for pharmacology. He is an Assistant Professor of Medicine, Nephrology, and Pharmacological Sciences and performs independent lab research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, NY. Evren recently received his first $2M R01 grant from the NIH at the top percentile, to study the kidney cellular biomechanics. In celebration of this achievement, he has been selected for the Alumni Spotlight of Spring 2019.  

Here is a little bit about Evren Azeloglu:

What was one of your favorite or most influential memories from the Mechanical Engineering department?
I model most of my current teaching after the great professors that have taught me at Stony Brook University. I still consider the high-level classes I took from Prof. Kao and late Prof. Metzger as the greatest examples of teaching I have ever seen. Both professors had great personable styles, very strict academic standards, and incredibly clear lectures that made complex materials easy to digest. After almost 20 years, I still remember some of the lectures vividly. 


What did you like most about being a Stony Brook student?
I enjoyed the close interaction with professors and the individualized attention they all gave to students. In particular, Prof. Fu-Pen Chiang, who was the Department Chair at the time, was incredibly caring. As my mentor, he played the greatest role in securing scholarships and fellowships that were not only inspirational but also instrumental in finishing my undergraduate studies.

What advice do you have for engineering students? 
Follow your curiosity and never underestimate your ability to adapt. Throughout my academic and professional career, I’ve seen that the greatest aspect of our multifaceted education is the problem solving and analytical thinking skills.

In layman's terms, can you describe your area of research? 
I am using quantitative methods to design and engineer personalized diagnostic and treatment strategies for patients with end-stage kidney disease. We use patient’s own blood cells to reprogram and build a kidney-on-chip that can be used to test drugs and screen for adverse reactions. 

How did you go from studying Mechanical Engineering to specializing in Bioengineering?
Professor Chiang had a joint research project with the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery that involved characterization of myocardial tissue dynamics. He let me run several aspects of the project independently (which led to a number of publications) and eventually we attended international meetings to present our work. In these meetings, I witnessed how much we could contribute to biomedical research as classically-trained engineers. At the same time, I saw the importance of having a fundamental biology background, which is why I gradually focused my training in bioengineering for my doctorate and systems biology for my postdoctoral fellowship. The unique combination of my training has been instrumental in running a successful research program. I will be forever grateful to Prof. Chiang for putting his faith in me as a young engineering student, and inspiring me to pursue a scientific career.

What is a fun fact about yourself that you'd like to share? 
I often break things in the kitchen and spill things constantly. Despite being very clumsy, I somehow operated million-dollar-instruments every day during my PhD without breaking a single one. I am still surprised at the irony of this dichotomy.