The University of Arkansas at Little Rock announced Wednesday that Dr. K. Bao Vang-Dings, a research assistant professor at the Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences at the school, has been named one of the nine 2021-2022 Public Policy Fellows with the American Association of Immunologists (AAI).
Additionally, the the Arkansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) has awarded her a 2021 Summer Research Grant.
This INBRE grant, totaling $36,593, will fund Vang-Dings’ cancer vaccine research, in addition to providing an undergraduate research assistantship. For the next three months, Vang-Dings and her student assistant will investigate the ability of a unique nanoparticle-based system to fight melanoma. This nanosystem is designed to work in concert with the body’s immune system to trigger an aggressive reaction against tumor cells. This type of technique, called “immunotherapy,” boosts the body’s own natural defense (immune cells) against cancer.
If this experiment is successful, the nanosystem-based vaccine may one day be the first of its kind for melanoma treatment and prevention, school officials said.
Vang-Dings, who received her doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota, has been at UA Little Rock for seven years, during which time she has published 15 peer-reviewed research studies and has been the recipient of a 2018 Arkansas Economic Development Commission seed grant through the National Science Foundation-supported Center for Advanced Surface Engineering.