Dr. Choi’s research involves vein and artery complications in patients undergoing dialysis due to kidney failure. Chronic kidney disease, often caused by high blood pressure or diabetes, affects one in nine Americans, with another 20 million at increased risk.
Patients with kidney failure often require dialysis, a life-saving procedure in which the patient’s blood is circulated through a machine that cleanses it of waste products – a process the patient’s kidneys can no longer perform. Dialysis requires a surgically created artery-to-vein (arteriovenous) direct connection or a prosthetic graft inserted in the patient’s arm or leg. This artificial circuit often fails due to abnormal scarring and thickening of the lining of the vein that receives the blood from the artery, and must be surgically repaired to continue treatments. Dr. Choi is researching the cellular and molecular mechanism that causes this abnormality; a significant step in developing new treatments to prevent this vascular problem.
Dr. Choi also is investigating ways to grow new blood vessels as a therapy for treating critical limb-threatening ischemia (CLTI), in which legs and feet do not receive blood because of severe blockage in the arteries. Left untreated, CLTI leads to painful sores, gangrene, and even amputation. Each year approximately 100,000 amputations occur in the U.S. because of CLTI.
Since receiving the Wylie Scholar Award in 2006, Dr. Choi has been promoted to the Chief, Section of Vascular Surgery at Temple University School of Medicine.