Lien Nguyen, Ph.D.
lien.nguyen at ufl.edu
Lien has always been interested in understanding the molecular pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders and in developing therapeutic strategies for these devastating diseases. She received her B.S. in Chemistry from Hanoi College of Science at Vietnam National University. Lien then earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with Dr. Steven Zimmerman, in which she designed, synthesized, and studied biological activities of small molecules that target Myotonic Dystrophy. Continuing her interest in repeat expansion disorders, she joined the lab led by Dr. Laura Ranum in the Center for NeuroGenetics (CNG) as a postdoctoral fellow. During the early phase of the postdoctoral training, Lien studied the roles of C9orf72 repeat-associated non-AUG (RAN) proteins in disease pathogenesis and developed therapeutic strategies for C9orf72 ALS/FTD.
While doing research in repeat expansion disorders, Lien learned that the discovery of repeat expansion mutations is very challenging because of technical difficulties. Since repetitive elements account for >50% of human genome, it is highly likely that many repeat expansion mutations remain unidentified and could contribute to common disorders including Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This innovative thought has led Lien to develop a novel pathology-to-gene-identification strategy to isolate and study the roles repeat expansion mutations in disease with unknown genetic etiologies. In 2020, Lien received the K99/R00 – Pathway to Independence Award (NIH/NIA) to develop and use this strategy to study genetics and molecular mechanisms of AD. In December 2022, Lien started her independent lab in the CNG, the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, University of Florida. She is enthusiastic about gaining new knowledge and doing research to increase our understanding of disease and how the central nervous system works. She looks forward to working with outstanding and motivated researchers and to contributing to the huge effort of the scientific community to help patients and their families.