Skip to main content


Ayokunle Olanrewaju

Faculty Photo

Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering

Assistant Professor

Pronouns: he/him


  • 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

Previous appointments

  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, 2018-2020
  • Acting Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, 2020-2021

Research Statement

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.

Current projects

Enzymatic assays for measuring HIV medications.

Maintaining therapeutic levels of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs used in HIV treatment and prevention is critical, and yet ≥25% of people receiving ARVs do not maintain adequate adherence. Sub-therapeutic drug concentrations put people at risk for developing drug-resistant infections, immune dysregulation, and death. We recently developed the REverSe TRanscrIptase Chain Termination (RESTRICT) enzymatic assay for rapid (≤ 30 min) measurement of nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) – the backbone of HIV treatment and prevention regimens and thus an optimal target for HIV TDM. RESTRICT measures NRTI concentrations based on the drug's inhibition of DNA chain termination. RESTRICT has immediate applications for measuring adherence to HIV medication in clinical practice and behavioral science studies. We are also developing other rapid enzymatic assays for therapeutic monitoring of other classes of HIV medications.

Collaborators: Jonathan PosnerPaul DrainJose Castillo-MancillaPete Anderson

Self-powered and self-regulated microfluidics

Microfluidic devices have the potential to miniaturize and automate various liquid handling processes in basic and translational research. Despite their potential, the promise of "lab-on-a-chip" devices remains unfulfilled in part because of the strong reliance on bulky and expensive equipment for flow control. We developed autonomous capillary microfluidic devices that are self-powered and self-regulated by surface tension forces defined by microchannel geometry and surface chemistry, and without any external equipment. We develop design rules for capillary microfluidics based on electric-hydraulic analogies, 3D-print capillary microfluidics for rapid and inexpensive design iteration, and conduct proof of concept experiments to demonstrate sophisticated liquid handling capabilities. Capillary microfluidics are application-agnostic liquid handling devices that may have a wide range of applications including molecular assays, synthetic biology, and chemical synthesis.

Collaborators: Alshakim NelsonDavid Juncker

pHastCam: An affordable, rapid blood pH detector for assessing brain hypoxia after birth in low-resource settings

Birth asphyxia affects 2 per 1,000 live births in the United States and nearly 30 per 1,000 live births in low-income countries (LICs) worldwide. Birth asphyxia accounts for nearly a quarter of neonatal deaths and is a significant contributor to long-term disability worldwide. Brain injury resulting from birth asphyxia is called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Early identification of infants at risk for HIE is necessary to improve short- and long-term outcomes. Standardized neurologic exams and blood pH measurements used for HIE identification in high-income settings are often unavailable in LICs due to lack of human resources and high cost. Rapid blood pH detection for HIE screening in LICs would dramatically improve identification of newborns at highest risk for HIE and allow for: (1) timely referral to tertiary facilities able to support such infants and (2) improved resource allocation for these sick newborns. We will develop a portable, affordable device for blood pH measurement in LICs for rapid HIE screening. The device, named pHastCam, will utilize a pH sensitive dye and ubiquitous smartphone camera technology to determine blood pH within seconds.

Collaborators: Krystle PerezGreg ValentineTim RobinsonLen NelsonManuja SharmaEric Seibel

Select publications

  1. Yafia M, Ymbern O, Olanrewaju A, Parandakh A, Sohrabi Kashani A, Renault J, Jin Z, Kim G, Ng A, Juncker D. (2022) Microfluidic Chain Reaction. Nature.
  2. Olanrewaju A.O, Sullivan BP, Gim A*, Craig CA*, Sevenler D, Bender AT, Drain PK, Posner JD. (2022) REverSe TranscrIptase Chain Termination (RESTRICT) for Selective Measurement of Nucleotide Analogs Used in HIV Care and Prevention. Bioengineering & Translational Medicine.
  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.

Honors & awards

  • 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:
  • American Society for Cell Biology Accomplishing Career Transitions Program