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A New Wrinkle on Vascular Implants

How Alumnus Joe Pugar BSChemE '17 and Associate Professor Sachin Velankar worked to create the startup Aruga Technologies


Joe Pugar has always been fascinated with the elegant structures, systems and mechanics of nature.  From the tensile strength of spider silk to the energy conversion ability of photosynthesis, he has been intrigued at adapting the genius of natural design to engineering challenges.


That’s what attracted him as a sophomore student in chemical engineering to a summer research project in the lab of Sachin Velankar at the Swanson School of Engineering.


The project was a collaboration between Valenkar, professor of chemical engineering, and Luka Pocivavsek, at the time a cardiovascular surgical resident at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, who is now at the University of Chicago.

Pocivavsek had the initial idea of developing a vascular implant that mimics the natural surface “wrinkling” that occurs in real blood vessels to keep blood from clotting on the interior vessel walls.


What Pugar couldn’t have imagined then is that within three years he would be taking this research out of the university in a startup company called Aruga Technologies with him spearheading the effort as CEO.

Read the full article from Pitt's Innovation Institute.

Author: Michael C. Yeomans Marketing and Special Events Manager, Innovation Institute