The UT System Jess Hay Chancellor’s Graduate Student Research Fellowship rotates between ten UT system institutions benefiting an academic and health science center every year.
This year, Vinh Dao was selected to receive this prestigious award. Vinh is a third-year graduate student in the MD/PhD program and is currently in the Microbiology and Immunology track of the IMGP program.
Vinh remarked that his research, within Dr. Tyler Curiel’s lab, will help “to find ways to harness and boost the immune system to find and kill cancer cells while sparing normal healthy cells.” More specifically, Vinh is studying whether the drug, rapamycin, is effective in preventing cancer by strengthening the immune system. As compared to treatment, cancer prevention is less costly and therefore, an important part in the fight against cancer.
Moreover, Vinh and his team have been working on changing the reputation of rapamycin as a toxic medication and immunosuppressant. He remarked, “We and others have slowly been building a body of published evidence clearly showing that in normal hosts, rapamycin has beneficial effects [in that it] is not immunosuppressive, but can enhance immunity.”
Vinh is looking forward to using his award to finance a trip to Melbourne, Australia where he will present his research at the 2014 International Cytokine & Interferon Society Meeting. Additionally, he is excited to be able to purchase lab supplies and chemical reagents needed to conduct more risky yet ambitious experiments. He has credited his award to his PhD mentor and lab mates for their support and assistance. Furthermore, he would also like to thank the Assistant Dean, Dr. Sophia Pina, and the Pipette Gazette for alerting him to this opportunity.