Wellington Pham received a Ph.D. degree in Medicinal and Biological Chemistry from the University of Toledo. His postdoctoral training focused on nuclear chemistry at the Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging, UCLA Medical School, followed by two postdoctoral trainings in cancer and neuro-imaging at the Center of Molecular Imaging Research and Martinos Center for Molecular Imaging, respectively, Harvard Medical School. Prior to joining the faculty at Vanderbilt School of Medicine in 2006, Dr. Pham was a faculty member at Harvard Medical School, where he pioneered the integration of fluorescence technology with nanotechnology for multimodal detection of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, he is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences and holds joint appointments in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Vanderbilt Brain Institute. Dr. Pham was a member of the Editorial Board of Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology Biology and Medicine (2014-2016), American Association of Cancer Research-Chemistry in Cancer Research (2012- 2014), Journal of Molecular Biomarkers and Diagnosis (2011-present), Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (2014-2016) and Precision Nanomedicine (2018-present). He served on several steering committees and conference organizers on molecular imaging and molecular probes, and a recipient of the Japanese Academy of Pharmaceutical Science and Technology Award (2010), and a distinguished investigator of the Academy for Radiology & Biomedical Imaging Research (2019). His current research interests include the discovery of biomarkers and imaging probes, combined with delivery technologies dedicated to cancer and Alzheimer’s disease and has published over 120 publications, including peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, conference abstracts/proceedings, editorials and patents on these subjects. His work is funded by NCI, NIA, NIBIB, DOD, VA grants and ADEKA Corporation.


Novel Approaches to Evaluate the Amyloid Cascade Hypothesis

This talk will describe a multidisciplinary approach by the integration of medicinal chemistry with molecular imaging and drug delivery to re-assess the role of amyloid in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Particularly, the investigation of the role of oxidative stress in the initiation of amyloid aggregation will be discussed. The brain is more vulnerable than any other organs to oxidative stress given major components of the neurons, such as lipids, proteins and nucleic acids can be oxidized in AD that leads to increased inflammation and amyloid aggregation. If this mechanism is proven to be accurate, routine consumption of antioxidant-rich diets could be used for the prevention of AD. While, our study also suggests that the development of biologic-based treatment of AD should take blood-brain barrier (BBB) into consideration, which is a formidable barrier that blocks most of the large molecules from penetrating the brain parenchyma unless the delivery is facilitated by receptor-mediated mechanisms. Alternatively, delivery to the brain bypassing the BBB via the olfactory epithelium can be achieved by atomizing the drug formulation for nebulization. This route of distribution is ideal for AD since the materials would end up in the subiculum before diffusing to the hippocampal region. During this presentation, I will also discuss the development of methods for imaging amyloid deposit in the retina for early detection of AD. Notably, optical imaging of the ocular amyloidal deposit is much easier, economical, and faster compared to imaging the same material deep inside in the brain.

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