Quyen Nguyen uses molecular probes that make tumors — and just the tumors — glow, as an extraordinary aid to surgeons.

Why you should listen

Dr. Quyen Nguyen’s research (working with Roger Tsien, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry) is focused on the development of fluorescently labeled probes for molecular navigation during surgery. Their first collaborative effort yielded a “smart” probe that makes tumors margins fluoresce, or “glow” and thus easier for surgeons to see and remove accurately during surgery. Their most recent joint effort resulted in another type of probe that can make nerves “glow” during surgery, thus helping surgeons repair injured nerves and avoid inadvertent injury.

She is a professor of surgery and director of the Facial Nerve Clinic at the University of California, San Diego.

Quyen Nguyen’s TED talk