Dr. Owens’ main research interest involves therapeutic ultrasound and its potential cardiovascular clinical applications. Specifically, he and his collaborators in the Department of Biomedical Engineering have been investigating a novel ultrasound technique termed histotripsy. Histotripsy, invented at the University of Michigan, is a focused, high-intensity ultrasound technique that harnesses the energy of acoustic cavitation, creating violent micro-bubble activity only at a localized focus, inducing targeted and controlled tissue destruction. Dr. Owens has been instrumental in advancing this technique towards true clinical application. Seminal papers published in Circulation (2010) and Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions (2011) describe the potential of this technique to become a non-invasive modality to safely, and potentially more efficiently, create intra-cardiac communications (ASDs and/or VSDs) in infants with complex congenital heart disease such as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome or other functional single ventricle physiologies. Dr. Owens has received an Innovative Research Grant from the American Heart Association and support from the Hartwell Foundation. Dr. Owens’ research team is dedicated to bring this technology to clinical fruition and is planning to obtain regulatory approval to initiate a clinical trial within the next 2-3 years. In addition, Dr. Owens also participates and supervises investigations on the utility of this technique to non-invasively induce thrombolysis (JVIR 2011) for deep vein thrombosis or arterial occlusion as well as histotripys’ potential role in fetal cardiac and non-cardiac interventions (UOG 2011).
With his expertise in translation science, experience with animal studies, skills in experimental echocardiography, and clinical interest in Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care, Dr. Owens is also actively involved in the Extracorporeal Life Support (ECLS) laboratory supervised by Dr. Bartlett. Dr. Owens has played instrumental roles and provided essential clinical and research expertise in the development of an artificial placenta model aimed to revolutionize the treatment of premature infants (Pediatric Surgery, 2013). In addition, Dr. Owens and colleagues in the ECLS laboratory have recently began investigations on a novel, prolonged ex vivo cardiac perfusion model with potential to preserve, revitalize, and immune-modulate harvested hearts prior to transplantation that may significant increase the donor pool and revolutionize pediatric cardiac transplant medicine.
Dr. Owens also has clinical research interests, namely related to post-operative care following cardiac surgery. He has been active in investigating the role of near infrared spectroscopy in the cardiac ICU (Ped Card 2011) and has IRB approval for a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the role of calcium chloride replacement therapy in infants following surgery for congenital heart disease.