Project Description

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering


Ayokunle OlanrewajuAyokunle Olanrewaju

Dr. Olanrewaju’s research applies principles from the physical and life sciences to solve pressing problems in diagnostics, precision medicine, and translational bioengineering. He uses 3D microfabrication, autonomous microfluidics, and molecular assays for rapid and user-friendly monitoring of medications to prevent treatment failure and improve healthcare outcomes. He aims to develop automated devices for healthcare monitoring at the point of need whether in a doctor’s office or a patient’s home.


Point-of-care Diagnostics

therapeutic drug monitoring

capillary-driven flow

Global Health

Point of care assays for therapeutic monitoring of HIV medication

Therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) may become an essential component of personalized medicine, but the tools to facilitate TDM are currently too cumbersome and expensive for routine clinical use especially in resource-limited settings. The need for TDM is urgent in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) care, where maintaining therapeutic levels of antiretroviral therapy (ART) is critical, and yet nearly half of the over 20 million people receiving ART do not maintain adequate adherence. Subtherapeutic drug concentrations put people at risk for developing drug-resistant virus, having persistent HIV viremia, immune dysregulation, and death. The long-term goal of this project is to develop point- of-care (POC) technologies for TDM and precision medicine in global health settings. We recently developed the REverSe TRanscrIptase Chain Termination (RESTRICT) enzymatic assay for rapid measurement of nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) – the backbone of HIV treatment and prevention regimens and thus an optimal target for HIV TDM. RESTRICT infers drug levels based on DNA chain termination. I demonstrated proof-of-concept RESTRICT assays with tenofovir diphosphate (TFV-DP), an NRTI used in over 90% of HIV treatment regimens and in all HIV prevention regimens. RESTRICT has immediate applications for measuring adherence to HIV medication and screening patients during HIV vaccine efficacy trials. We will develop assays for therapeutic monitoring of other enzyme inhibitors used in infectious and chronic disease management.

Capillary microfluidics for user-friendly, minimally instrumented, and scalable liquid delivery

The conventional view in the field was that self-powered and self-regulated microfluidic devices, that move liquids using only capillary forces defined by microchannel geometry and surface chemistry, required the high precision (?10 um) and sub-micron surface roughness provided by cleanroom fabrication. Cleanroom fabrication increases the time and cost required to develop new designs and limits self-powered microfluidics to small volumes (?10 uL) preventing their use in applications that where large sample volumes (>100 uL) need to be screened (e.g., bacteria detection in urine). We 3D-printed capillary microfluidics, developed design rules to ensure that they remained functional even with the larger dimensions and rougher surfaces achievable by 3D printing, and conducted proof of concept experiments to demonstrate pre-programmed liquid delivery. We applied these 3D-printed capillary microfluidic devices to detect clinically relevant bacteria concentrations in < 7 min. These self-powered microchips could provide rapid, sensitive, and user-friendly diagnosis of urinary tract infections in vulnerable and non-verbal populations such as infants. We also introduced a new design paradigm, called microfluidic chain reactions, that use identical air conduits to enable scalable sequential and/or simultaneous liquid delivery from hundreds of reservoirs without any external instruments. Microfluidic chain reactions are simple to design, can be rapidly prototyped with bench-top 3D printers, and can provide user-friendly and minimally instrumented automation in basic and translational research settings.

Ph.D. in Biological and Biomedical Engineering, McGill University, Canada
M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering, University of Alberta, Canada
B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering, University of Alberta, Canada

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, 2018-2020

  • International AIDS Society (IAS)/ France Recherche Nord & Sud Sida-HIV Hépatites (ANRS) Lange/van Tongeren Prize for Young Investigators.
  • University of Washington Undergraduate Research Mentor Award
  • Featured on Cell Mentor’s List of 1,000 inspiring Black scientists
  • University of Washington/Fred Hutch Center for AIDS Research New Investigator Award
  • Mistletoe Research Fellowship
  • 1st Place, Elevator Speech Contest, American Society for Cell Biology Annual Meeting:
  • MITACS Elevate Industrial Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • Québec Étudiant-Chercheur étoiles (Star Student Researcher)
  • 1st Place, Shark Tank Competition, MicroTAS 2017 Conference:
  • Top 15, Canada-wide NSERC Science Action! Video Competition:
  1. Yafia M, Ymbern O, Olanrewaju A, Parandakh A, Sohrabi Kashani A, Renault J, Jin Z, Kim G, Ng A, Juncker D. (2021) Microfluidic Chain Reaction. ChemRxiv. [Preprint]
  2. Olanrewaju A.O, Sullivan B, Gim A, Sevenler D, Bender A, Drain P, Posner J. (2021) REverSe TranscrIptase Chain Termination (RESTRICT) for Selective Measurement of Nucleotide Analogs Used in HIV Care and Prevention. ChemRxiv [Preprint].
  3. Olanrewaju A.O, Sullivan B.P, Bardon A.R, Lo T.J, Cressey T.R, Posner J.D, Drain P.K, (2021) Pilot Evaluation of a Rapid Enzymatic Assay for Measuring Antiretroviral Drug Concentrations. Virology Journal, 18(77),
  4. Seah Y.M, Chang A.M, Dabee S, Davidge B, Erickson J.R, Olanrewaju A.O, Price R.M, (2021) Pandemic-related instructor talk: how new instructors supported students at the onset of the COVID- 19 pandemic, Journal of Microbiology Education, 22(1)
  5. Drain P.K, Bardon A.R, Simoni J.M, Cressey T.R, Anderson P, Sevenler D, Olanrewaju A.O, Gandhi M, Celum C. (2020) Point-of-Care and Near-Patient Antiretroviral Testing for Monitoring Adherence to HIV Treatment and Prevention, Current HIV/AIDS Reports.
  6. Olanrewaju A.O, Sullivan B.P, Zhang J.Y, Bender A.T, Sevenler D, Lo T.J, Fernandez-Suarez M, Drain P.K, and Posner J.D. (2020) Enzymatic Assay for Rapid Measurement of Antiretroviral Drug Levels. ACS Sensors, 5(4), 952 – 959.
  7. Olanrewaju A.O, Beaugrand M, Yafia M, and Juncker D. (2018) Capillary microfluidics in microchannels: from microfluidic networks to capillaric circuits, Lab on a Chip, 18 (16), 2323-2347.
  8. Olanrewaju A.O, Ng A, DeCorwin-Martin P, Robillard A, and Juncker D. (2017) Microfluidic Capillaric Circuit for Rapid and Facile Bacteria Detection, Analytical Chemistry, 89, 6846 – 6853.
  9. Olanrewaju A.O, Robillard A, Dagher M, and Juncker D. (2016) Autonomous Microfluidic Capillaric Circuits Replicated from 3D-Printed Molds”, Lab on a Chip, 16 (19), 3804 – 3814.

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