Diana-Andra Borca-Tasciuc, assistant professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering, has won a Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Borca-Tasciuc will use the five-year, $425,000 award to further her research into using nanoparticles heated by an alternative magnetic field to fight cancer.
“We are extremely proud of Dr. Borca-Tasciuc and congratulate her for this impressive achievement,” said David Rosowsky, dean of Rensselaer’s School of Engineering. “CAREER Awards are reserved for the brightest and most promising young researchers, and Dr. Borca-Tasciuc certainly is befitting of such an honor. I am confident her research program will be successful, and look forward to seeing its potential impact on the development of new heat-mediated therapies for cancer.”
Borca-Tasciuc will look at the fundamental heat generation and heat transport mechanisms of nanoparticles heated in an alternating magnetic field, and investigate if and how these mechanisms change when the nanoparticles are embedded in biological media. Optimizing this heating process is critical for reducing the concentration of nanoparticles, and in turn lowering the risks associated with potential side effects of exposure to such materials.
Engineering nanoparticles with enhanced heating capabilities is also important for treating small tumors, which deflect heat easily.
A more robust understanding of nanoparticle heat generation for cancer hyperthermia applications could also lead to key advancements in other areas such as nanoparticle-based gene therapy, Borca-Tasciuc said.
The CAREER Award is given to faculty members at the beginning of their academic careers and is one of NSF’s most competitive awards, placing emphasis on high-quality research and novel education initiatives.
Borca-Tasciuc joined the Rensselaer faculty in 2006. She received her bachelor’s degree in physics from Bucharest University in 1996, and went on to earn her master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles.
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