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Engineering | School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering


Danh Truong, a SBHSE graduate student working under the supervision of Assistant Professor Mehdi Nikkhah, recently received the prestigious IFER (International Foundation for Ethical Research) graduate fellowship program for alternatives to the use of animals in science. His project “Studying the biochemical and biophysical influences of fibroblasts on cancer invasion in a tumor-stroma on a chip” was selected among a pool of competitive applicants.

Truong developed a physiologically relevant 3-D breast tumor model on a micro-engineered chip.  This platform is comprised of breast cancer cells as well as surrounding stromal cells in 3-D to reproduce a biologically relevant testing environment. They have used this chip to investigate breast cancer invasion under influences of biomolecules (i.e. growth factors and chemokines) and anti-cancer drugs.

The work has been showcased in several national and international conferences (i.e. BMES, ASME). Truong recently won the first place award at the first ASU Molecular, Cellular and Tissue Bioengineering Symposium in 2016 for his work and presentation [1]. Most importantly, the research was published in the journal, Scientific Reports, of Nature’s Publishing Group [2]. 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.

IFER website:

[1]     Grant, Terry. “MCTB SYMPOSIUM UNITES RESEARCHERS, COMMUNITY PARTNERS.” Full Circle. ASU, 28 Apr. 2016. Web.

[2]     Truong, Danh, et al. “Breast Cancer Cell Invasion into a Three Dimensional Tumor-Stroma Microenvironment.” Scientific Reports 6 (2016).