Chemistry at Illinois University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

2015 PhD graduate awarded Beckman Postdoc Fellowship

Congratulations to Freddy Nguyen, a 2015 Illinois Chemistry PhD graduate, who was chosen for a prestigious Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows Award. Nguyen is a postdoctoral researcher at MIT working on development of nanosensors for in vivo monitoring of cancer therapeutics.

Freddy NguyenAccording to Nguyen, "The research I am planning to pursue is focused on the development of nanoscale molecular sensors for probing the tumor and its microenvironment. More specifically, we would like to implant our nanosensors inside tumors to to measure their response at the molecular level to various cancer therapies such as chemotherapeutics and radiation therapy. Our nanosensors are detected using near-infrared fluorescence and Raman spectroscopic techniques allowing us to probe the sensors from a distance using near-infrared light and are not susceptible to photobleaching effects unlike typical endogenous and exogenous fluorophores. These unique features of our nanosensors can allow us with a method to dynamically probe the tumor microenvironment in real-time and in-vivo. Patients currently have to wait until there are measurable size changes on CT or MRI scans or must undergo biopsies of the tumor to determine molecular changes in response to treatment. Having access to that molecularinformation within the first few days of treatment will be a tremendous step forward indetermining whether cancer treatments are working for each patient at a much earlier timeframe than the current standard of care. This allows for the patient and physician to morepromptly manage the treatment of their cancer."

"Following my post-doc, I plan to pursue a faculty position as a physician-scientist at an academic medical center where I can work side by side with physicians and patients working at this exciting interface moving from the bench to the bedside and back to the bench I plan to continue to work at the intersection of cancer research, biomedical optics, and particle development for sensing and drug delivery. As a future physician-scientist, I am deeply interested in pursuing a research career that will span and integrate the spectrum of research from optics instrumentation to sensor and drug delivery development at the basic science level, in vitro in cell cultures, and in vivo in small animal and human studies. In particular, I am interested in the development and validation of newer imaging techniques and particle developments as new tools to gain new insights into the biomolecular pathways involved in cancer progression and treatments," said Nguyen.

The Beckman postdoctoral fellows program supports postdoctoral scholars with the highest potential for success in an independent academic career in chemistry and the life sciences, to assist in their transition from “mentored yet independent” postdoctoral projects to an independent, tenure-track position. These individuals are expected to become the next generation of leaders and innovators in science, engineering, and technology, according to the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. The organization provides grants to researchers and non-profit research institutions.