Customer Spotlight: Tam Nguyen, PhD Candidate at Virginia Tech
Since the release of this interview, the Azure c400 has been upgraded to the Azure 400, a flexible fluorescent imager that enables three color fluorescent detection for dyes in the visible range.
Microbiome research has grown exponentially in the last decade, and PhD candidate Tam Nguyen is no stranger to the field. After three years as a molecular biologist and biochemist at Virginia Tech, she has rapidly furthered our current understanding of how microbes may interact with colorectal cancers.
Nguyen is a member of the Slade Lab, headed by Associate Professor Dr. Daniel Slade. The lab’s primary focus is to better understand how a commensal oral bacterium may influence the colorectal tumor microenvironment and induce adverse inflammatory responses in the host. The Slade lab is investigating the host-Fusobacterium interactions and their roles in bacterial pathogenesis and altered host responses in colorectal and pancreatic cancers.
Nguyen and the lab have made great strides in understanding how Fusobacterium nucleatum, an opportunistic oral pathogen that has garnered increasing attention, interacts with colorectal cancer cells. The Slade Lab is one of the few labs with the capacity to make genetic modifications in Fusobacterium nucleatum, making them a great resource to help move the field forward to better expand on the topic of tumor microbiome. Through her years at Virginia Tech, Nguyen has helped uncover how Fusobacterium can establish invasion and long-term survival.
To begin her research, Nguyen cultures F. nucleatum statically in an anaerobic chamber to mimic the living condition of this bacterium since it resides in oxygen-free pockets in the mouth. To focus on bacterial intracellular survival, Nguyen extracts protein lysates from the bacteria once they are at certain growth characteristics, and performs Western blot analysis followed by visualization with the Azure c400 Imaging System.
Nguyen regularly utilizes this approach to understand the differences in protein expression among bacterial strains that have been genetically modified. She grows her bacteria in an anaerobic chamber with the appropriate gas mixture but skips the shaking step in the incubation period due to its non-motile nature. “We mainly use the instrument for Western blot analysis, which is routinely used in our lab for analyzing protein expression,” confirms Nguyen.
Nguyen will be defending her research in a public seminar next month with the help of the publication-worthy analysis from the Azure c400 Imager. She looks forward to how her work may influence future cancer microbiome studies and how the Slade Lab’s work can help close our knowledge gap on understanding disease-centric relationships between biological systems and microbes.
Together, Nguyen and the Slade Lab team will continue to use the Azure c400 Imager in their recent discoveries in an effort to eliminate F. nucleatum to combat disease. Their research helps to develop more effective cancer treatment methods.
For more information on the Slade Lab and Dr. Slade’s research at Virginia Tech, check out their lab’s website.