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truong_img_6878-300x300Danh Truong, a doctoral student studying biomedical engineering, recently received the prestigious IFER (International Foundation for Ethical Research) graduate fellowship for alternatives to the use of animals in science.

Truong conducts research in Assistant Professor Mehdi Nikkhah’s lab to develop a physiologically relevant 3D breast tumor model on a micro-engineered chip. The platform is comprised of breast cancer cells as well as surrounding stromal cells in 3D to reproduce a biologically relevant testing environment. They have used this chip to investigate breast cancer invasion under influences of biomolecules (for example, growth factors and chemokines) and anti-cancer drugs.

The work has been showcased in several national and international conferences, including BMES and ASME. Truong recently won the first place award at the ASU Molecular, Cellular and Tissue Bioengineering Symposium for his work and presentation. Most importantly, the research was published in the journal, Scientific Reports, of Nature’s Publishing Group. Overall, Truong’s work has potential to replace the use of animals in cancer drug testing. They hope that this model will provide better answers in cancer research than current technologies.

The awarded fellowship will help him further his studies by providing a stipend as well as funding for research supplies. He is currently studying the influences of different cells (i.e. fibroblasts, endothelial, and immune) on cancer growth and invasion within his model.