McNair Scholar 2018 Minh-Uyen Nguyen

Minh-Uyen Nguyen is a junior at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, majoring in biomedical engineering. She is currently involved in research in the Living Devices Lab and volunteering at the Medical Device Center. She is also the Finance Office of Biomedical Engineering Society for the 2018-19 school year. Ms. Nguyen plans on getting her Masters in Biomedical Engineering and going into industry.

Minh-Uyen Nguyen headshot
My dream is to leave the world a little better than how I found it. Someday I will work in Research and Development at a medical device company, developing medical devices capable of saving people’s lives.

Research project

Development of a Single Cell Mechanical Characterization Platform

Abstract: Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited blood disorder characterized by abnormal sickle-shaped hemoglobin molecules that can cause vaso-occlusions. This disease affects upwards 13 million people worldwide; however, current treatments for SCD is limited and inefficient in their ability to predict patient response. Many studies have turned their focus to single red blood cell (RBC) mechanics; however, they do not connect back to the whole blood rheology where disease complications arise. The purpose of this research project is to develop a single cell mechanical characterization platform to determine a quantitative link between distributions of single RBC mechanics and whole blood rheology at oxygenated and deoxygenated conditions. The platform was developed using standard photolithography methods and fabricated with PDMS. Various blood mixture conditions were mimicked using formaldehyde to systematically characterize the effects cell membrane stiffness have at the whole blood level. Next steps in the experiment are to measure deformability of RBCs fixed with formaldehyde to create a control to which sickled RBCs can be compared. Understanding the connection between changes at the single cell level and the greater blood environment can help improve patient response to blood transfusions.

Faculty mentor

Dr. David K. Wood is currently an Assistant Professor in the Biomedical Engineering Department at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Wood studied physics at North Carolina State University and got his Ph.D. in physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His involvement with the NIMS lab exposed him to microfluidics and biosensors, sparking his interest in the application of physics in biological systems. Dr. Wood then pursued a postdoc at MIT in the Laboratory for Multiscale Regenerative Technologies. His Living Devices Lab focuses on the development of in vitro models of sickle cell disease and cancer with the hopes of developing new tools that could change the way health care is practiced.