Meet Research Grant Recipient: Naoki Kaneko, MD, PhD

Dr. Naoki Kaneko is the recipient of the Falmouth Road Race and Nebraska’s Hope for a Better Tomorrow Chair of Research for $35,000.

BAF: Please tell us your background, where you are from, schooling, etc.

NK: I received my MD and PhD degrees from Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. I completed my neurosurgery residency at Jichi Medical University. During my residency, I started my aneurysm research using the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) method and rodent aneurysm models. I joined the laboratory of Dr. Suzanne Zukin between 2010 and 2012 as a visiting scientist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where I studied neuronal death following global ischemia with the molecular and cellular approach. After completing neurosurgery residency and graduate research, I became a neurosurgery faculty at Jichi Medical University in 2013 and investigated the application of three-dimensional (3D) modeling into the neurovascular field. I joined the division of neurointerventional radiology at UCLA in 2016 and became a faculty in 2018.

BAF: What led you to become involved with brain aneurysm research?

NK: My research training and clinical experience have provided me with a unique background, including open microsurgery, minimally-invasive endovascular surgery, biology, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and 3D printing technology. During my research and clinical training, I became increasingly interested in integrating my broad research experience and developing new endovascular methods to treat this devastating disease safely and efficiently.

BAF: In the simplest terms, what is the purpose of your project?

NK: Our project aims to evaluate the effectiveness and precision of a robotic system in treating brain aneurysms. By comparing manual and robotic treatments in 3D-printed aneurysm models, we will investigate device control, possible delays, and the potential for remote operation. The goal is to enhance safety, reduce complications, and increase accessibility of brain aneurysm treatment globally.

BAF: In the simplest terms, what do you hope will change through your research findings?

NK: Through this research regarding robotics, we hope to reduce procedure complications and extend the reach of these treatments to areas without specialists, making the therapy safer and more accessible worldwide.

BAF: Why is the funding you are receiving through the Brain Aneurysm Foundation so important?

NK: The funding from the Brain Aneurysm Foundation is extremely important to us and supports vascular modeling, and experiments. The BAF fund that we previously received in 2019 was essential for us to perform preliminary experiments for a different aneurysm project, which really helped us to get our first NIH R01 grant. We would like to use this precious BAF fund for gaining new insights and hope to utilize the data to acquire new funds and develop new therapies.

Pictured above is Dr. Kaneko’s research poster, Advancing Brain Aneurysm Treatments with Robotics: An Investigation into the Effectiveness of Robotic-Assisted Endovascular Procedures”