PhD Defense by Christian Rivera

Event Details
  • Date/Time:
    • Tuesday February 12, 2019
      10:30 am - 12:30 pm
  • Location: Suddath Seminar Room IBB, Room 1228
  • Phone:
  • URL:
  • Email:
  • Fee(s):
  • Extras:
No contact information submitted.

Summary Sentence: The role of geometry on the hemodynamics associated with stroke development in sickle cell anemia

Full Summary: No summary paragraph submitted.

Christian Rivera

Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. Thesis Defense


Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Time: 10:30am

Location: Suddath Seminar Room IBB, Room 1228



Dr. Manu O. Platt, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Yunlong Huo, School of Mechanics and Engineering Science, Peking University


Committee Members:

Dr. Alessandro Veneziani, School of Mathematics and Computer Science, Emory University

Dr. Edward Botchwey, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Wilbur Lam, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Tequila Harris, Department of Mechanical Engineering



Title: The role of geometry on the hemodynamics associated with stroke development in sickle cell anemia



Sickle cell anemia (SCA) is a genetic blood disorder which affects over 4 million people globally.  Though SCA is caused by a single point mutation in the hemoglobin of red blood cells, this change has devastating affects which can impact the entire human body and reduce life expectancy. Amongst the complications associated with SCA, there is a 200-fold increase in the likelihood of ischemic stroke in children and adolescents. Approximately 11.5% of individuals with SCA will develop an overt stroke before 18 years of age, and those between 2 and 8 at the greatest risk. The only method to determine stroke risk is with through transcranial doppler and measuring blood flow in the cerebral arteries. Individuals who have a time-average maximum-mean blood velocity exceeding 200 cm/s have a significantly elevated risk of developing a stroke in the future. The objective of this thesis is to provide insight into these elevated blood velocities by identifying and validating flow-mediated mechanisms predisposing children with sickle cell anemia to strokes.


Using computational fluid dynamics (CFD), we have demonstrated that individuals with SCA have elevated blood velocities, even when inlet boundary conditions matched those without SCA. This indicates geometrical differences are a cause for the elevated velocities indicative of strokes risk. In addition to these findings, individuals with SCA had increased regions of low and oscillatory shear stress, a stimulus for endothelial dysfunction and vascular remodeling. The role of geometry was further investigated using the Townes sickle cell transgenic mouse model. Through a combination of live imaging with ultrasound and corrosion casting, morphometrics were measured in the carotid and cerebral arteries of homozygous sickle (SS) and heterozygous sickle (AS) mice. SS mice were found to have significantly larger common carotid artery diameters than AS mice, and significantly larger diameters in the extracranial and intracranial portions of the ICA. Significant narrowing was also determined along ICA, decreasing by as much as 70%, such that the terminal tributaries of the MCA and ACA had no differences in size between genotypes. CFD simulations with mouse geometries indicated that narrowing in the cerebral arteries of SS mice correlated with elevated cerebral blood velocities. Specifically, narrowing along the right ACA produced significantly higher time-average maximum-mean velocities in mice afflicted with SCA. This work has laid the framework for determining potential biochemical mechanisms in SCA that are altering the cerebrovascular morphology and inducing elevated blood velocities, as well as enabling methods for testing future therapeutics.


Additional Information

In Campus Calendar

Graduate Studies

Invited Audience
Faculty/Staff, Public, Graduate students, Undergraduate students
Phd Defense
  • Created By: Tatianna Richardson
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Feb 4, 2019 - 3:46pm
  • Last Updated: Feb 4, 2019 - 3:46pm