Dr. Thanh Duc Nguyen

Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Department of Biomedical Engineering

Institute of Materials Science

University of Connecticut, CT, USA

Dr. Nguyen joined the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at UConn as an assistant professor since the beginning of 2016 after finishing his postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Robert Langer at MIT. His research is highly interdisciplinary and at the interface of biomedicine, materials and nano/micro technology. He has invented a platform technology which can create 3-dimensional microstructures of biodegradable polymers for applications in vaccine/drug delivery and medical implants. Specifically, he developed a method, so-called SEAL (StampEd Assembly of Polymer Layers) to create single-injection vaccines which can be released in a time controlled manner, simulating multi-bolus injections of the vaccines. Recently, his research group at UConn has developed the SEAL method further to create a skin microneedle patch (similar to Nicotine patch) which can be applied on the skin at a single time to deliver multiple bursts of stabilized vaccines against different pathogens like the pneumococcal bacteria or the COVID-19 virus. His research group at UConn has also studied a new biodegradable piezoelectric polymer which can be used for monitoring vital biophysiological forces, stimulating tissue growth and transporting drugs through physiological barriers inside the body. Dr. Nguyen’s works have been published in prestigious journals including Science, Nature Nanotech, Science Translational Medicine, Nature Biomedical Engineering, PNAS etc. He received several awards including the CRS (Controlled Release Society) Transdermal and Mucosal Delivery Focus Group Young Investigator Award (2021), ACell Young Investigator Award (2020), MIT top innovator under 35 for Asia Pacific (2019), NIH Trailblazer Award for Young and Early Investigators (2018), SPIE Rising Researcher Award (2019), Young Investigator Award in Biosciences and Bioengineering of Applied Sciences (2019), and the SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award (2018) etc.


“Smart” Biodegradable Polymer at Small Scales for Biomedical Applications

The ability to transform medical polymers, commonly used for resorbable surgical sutures, into desired 3D forms/shapes/structures at nano and micro scales with “smart” functions, while sustaining the materials’ excellent biocompatibility and biodegradability, provides significant applications in different biomedical fields, ranging from tissue engineering and controlled drug/vaccine-delivery to medical implanted devices. Here, I will present our recent research works to study and develop (1) a novel biodegradable piezoelectric polymeric scaffold for bone/cartilage regeneration and (2) a single-administration vaccine delivery system which is made by a newly developed 3D additive manufacturing process.

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