For Juliane Nguyen, Pharm.D., Ph.D., every day at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy begins and ends with a patient in mind.
Nguyen, an associate professor in the School’s Division of Pharmacoengineering and Molecular Pharmaceutics (DPMP), focuses on developing the next generation of safe and effective biotherapeutics for life-threatening diseases such as cancer and myocardial infarction.
“I think if we have developed a clinically viable drug that improves patients’ lives, then we will have made a significant contribution to science and medicine,” Nguyen said. “Until then, we continuously strive to learn and grow.”
And others are noticing her dedication to helping patients in need. Today, Nguyen is being recognized with the American Association of Pharmaceutical (AAPS) Scientists 2019 Emerging Leader Award. The award recognizes scientists and pharmaceutical professionals who are early in their careers and have made a significant impact in the pharmaceutical sciences that promotes public health. Nguyen accepted the honor at the AAPS PharmSci 360 conference in Texas in November.
Michael Jay, Ph.D., chair of the DPMP, said “Dr. Nguyen is the embodiment of an emerging leader. Not only does she have a highly-productive and well-funded research lab, but she is also breaking ground in cutting edge research areas. In addition, her leadership qualities have been recognized by others, as evidenced by her being appointed as an Early-Career Member of a journal’s Editorial Advisory Board, as well as being selected to organize and lead a research presentation session on nucleic acid delivery at a national meeting. We are indeed fortunate that Dr. Nguyen has joined our faculty and look forward to many great things from her.”
Nguyen received her Pharm.D. and Ph.D. from the Philipps-University of Marburg in Germany and completed her postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco. Prior to joining the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019, she was an assistant professor at the University at Buffalo.
Her research has led to the discovery of novel biomaterials that allow unprecedented loading of stem-cell derived exosomes with therapeutic cargoes including nucleic acids. This paves the way for cell-free therapeutics in many diseases, including cardiac regeneration after myocardial infarction. Her lab also recently developed immunomodulatory protein-based agents capable of reprogramming tumor-associated macrophages and T cells to suppress the growth of triple-negative breast cancer and other aggressive cancers.
Nguyen’s work has been recognized with numerous awards, including the 2019 CMBE Young Innovator Award, the 2019 NYSTAR Faculty Award, the 2018 National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the 2018 Pioneering Pharmaceutical Sciences by Emerging Investigators Award, and the 2017 University at Buffalo – Exceptional Scholar Young Investigator Award.
Along the way, Nguyen said she hopes to inspire high school students and young researchers who will become the next pharmaceutical and biomaterials science leaders.
Her advice to students is simple, “Don’t be afraid of failure. I used to be afraid, but I learned that failure gives you the opportunity to grow and it teaches you in ways success can’t.”