Dr. Nguyen is a Professor in the Department of Surgery at UCSD and is the Associate Director of Training and Education at the Moores Cancer Center. She received her combined M.D./Ph.D. degree from Washington University, School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO. Her PhD focus, while in the lab of Jeff Lichtman, MD/PhD, was on synaptic maintenance and nerve regeneration. She developed an in-vivo fluorescence time-lapse imaging system to visualize motor nerve regeneration using transgenic mice expressing neuron-specific GFP-variant following transection injury. She showed that Schwann cell pathways persist following axonal degeneration to guide the regenerating neurites back to their original target muscle fibers. This pioneering work, published in Nature Neuroscience, served to stimulate her current clinical focus on patients with facial nerve disorders requiring nerve substitution surgery and regeneration.
Following receiving combined MD/PhD degrees, Dr. Nguyen completed her General Surgery Internship at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis and residency subspecialty fellowship training at UCSD. She is board certified in both Head and Neck Surgery and Neurotology/Skull Base Surgery. Her clinical practice is at UCSD Health Systems where she treats and operates on patients with diseases of the ear and skull base, including cochlear implant and implantable hearing devices, management of facial nerve disorders, Meniere’s disease and tumors of the skull base. She has special interest in the facial nerve disorders and serves as Director of the Facial Nerve Clinic at UCSD, which provides evaluation and surgical treatment for patients with varying facial nerve dysfunctions, since 2009.
In collaboration with Dr. Roger Tsien (Nobel Prize, Chemistry 2008), she is working on the development of Live Molecular Navigation (LMN) for Fluorescent Guided Surgery (FGS) also known as “color-coded surgery”. Their collaborative work has been highlighted in by several high profile media sources including Nature Research Highlights, Nature Science BusinessXchange, Nature Cancer Reviews, The Economist, and Technology Review (MIT). Dr. Nguyen holds R01 funding from the National Institute of Health (NIBIB) and the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund. She was invited to give a TED talk in 2011 on the subject of “color-coded surgery.” To date, the website has been viewed over 1 million times.
Watch Dr. Nguyen during an interview with National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) staff:
In 2014, Dr. Nguyen was chosen by President Barack Obama to receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE, award date April 15 2014), the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers.
Dr. Nguyen recently founded Alume Biosciences, INC (http://alumebiosciences.com/)
to translate nerve-localization agents for intraoperative visualization.