Release Date: April 24, 2018
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Juliane Nguyen, University at Buffalo assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, received a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award, the agency’s most prestigious honor for early-career faculty.
The CAREER program recognizes promising faculty who exemplify the roles of teacher and scholar, and provides funding to recipients to pursue outstanding research that integrates educational outreach.
The five-year grant, worth nearly $505,000, will support Nguyen’s work to develop methods that help large molecules, such as proteins and nucleic acids, penetrate the cellular membrane. The research could enable the treatment of a number of previously incurable diseases.
The project will also develop a new biomaterials curriculum for graduate students, provide interactive teaching to high schools, and establish a mentoring program for minority and female students interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
The award illustrates UB’s success in attracting some of the world’s finest young researchers to Western New York.
Nguyen, who joined the UB Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2013, designs and engineers nanocarriers that target disease sites. Using the CAREER award, Nguyen will develop small vesicles containing pores that allow the release of therapeutic drugs directly into cells.
Unlike small molecules, large molecules are unable to penetrate through the cell membrane, complicating the effective use of proteins and nucleic acids in drug therapy. The vesicles developed by Nguyen will help these molecules gain entry into cells. To ensure the vesicles only target specific cells, they will be decorated with molecules that can detect diseased cells.
“We are developing a completely novel way to deliver macromolecules directly to the body of cells,” says Nguyen. “It is an honor to have the National Science Foundation supporting our research and educational endeavors.”
Nguyen is also the principal investigator on a $1.58 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a targeted treatment to prevent communication between cancer cells.
She earned a doctorate in pharmaceutical sciences and doctor of pharmacy degree from Philipps University, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco.