Undergraduate Highlight: Tran Ngo

Tran Ngo

Tran Ngo

Lab: Biomimetic Materials & Neural Engineering Lab, PI: Dr. Christine E. Schmidt

Hometown: Tampa, FL

Research focus:
My research focuses on applying 3D bioprinting technique for nerve tissue engineering applications. Peripheral nerve injury is a frequent occurrence affecting a considerable percentage of trauma patients annually. Current methods are not able to bridge large nerve injury gaps in a way that restores both motor and sensory function comparable to the uninjured nerve. 3D bioprinting of natural ECM-based bioinks such as hyaluronic acid (HA) can be used to provide structural and architectural support to regenerating nerves. HA is attractive as a bioink because it plays a natural role in wound healing in the body and is FDA-approved for other medical applications. During my undergraduate research experience, I worked on fabrication and mechanical characterization of HA hydrogels to develop a bioink for 3D bioprinted testbeds that mimic the microenvironment of native tissue to support axonal elongation and nerve regeneration.

Fun fact:
If I want to sleep, I can fall asleep anywhere anytime regardless of noise, light, location, etc.

Plans for the future?
As a short-term plan, I am pursuing a post-baccalaureate research experience in Dr. Kaitlyn Sadtler’s lab at the National Institute of Health to study immune response to biomaterials. This experience will help me explore the field of immunology while preparing to apply for MD/Ph.D. training. As a career plan, I want to understand human health and disease from both scientific and clinical perspectives. I hope to conduct research on the development of biomaterial-based drug delivery systems and to study/model the body’s immune response to these systems. Together, as a life-long goal, I hope to play a role in the medical research community as physician scientist, professor, and mentor.

What motivates you?
Coming from an immigrant household and knowing that my parents and family made many sacrifices for me to obtain this education, I am always motivated because I do not want to take this opportunity for granted. Therefore, I appreciate any chance to learn new things, work with others, and build life-long connections.

What attracted you to UF BME?
During UF Preview/Orientation, I attended the information session from the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and felt a connection to the biomedical engineering major after looking at the undergraduate program curriculum. I wanted to tailor my education to my academic interests in science, engineering, and medicine; UF BME offered the intersection. Throughout my time at UF, I felt a sense of community within UF BME department as an undergraduate.

What I love about Gainesville:
Let’s start with the school spirit and sports events that can turn a college town on weekdays into a festival on weekends. I love the sense of community, passion, and pride as a Gator that stems from Gainesville. In addition to the Swamp on campus, I also enjoy the swampy nature around Gainesville with lots of trails and parks. It is also a very bike-friendly city.

Motivational quote:
“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are: first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” ― Thomas A. Edison

Honors and awards:

  • 2020 UF Presidential Service Award
  • 2020 UF Alumni Association Scholar Award
  • 2019 UF BME Undergraduate Excellence Award