Bioengineering grad student selected to AIMBE Scholars Program

Bioengineering grad student selected to AIMBE Scholars Program

By Shawn Hutchins

Rice University graduate student Allen Chen ’09 has been selected to serve as an expert adviser to policymakers at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The appointment is competitive and comes from a new postdoctoral fellowship program jointly run by the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the FDA.

Allen Chen

Allen Chen

Chen, a bioengineering graduate student in Professor Rebekah Drezek’s Optical Molecular Imaging and Nanobiotechnology Laboratory, is one of four postdoctoral fellows chosen nationally.

The AIMBE Scholars Program includes a nine-month public policy appointment and advanced training in federal regulatory processes. Scholars work in the director’s office for the Center for Devices and Radiological Health while providing contributions to the FDA through their advanced biomedical engineering training.

In addition to sharing his research expertise in biomaterials, diagnostics and imaging and knowledge of the interactions between nanomaterials and biological environments, Chen will receive training in the FDA’s review and approval processes and be introduced to key government and industry decisionmakers.

“The development and translation of biomedical technologies to the clinic involves collaborative efforts among government, public, corporate and academic stakeholders,” Chen said. “The AIMBE Scholars Program will build on my scientific training by providing a deeper understanding of the biomedical industry and governmental regulatory aspects involved in introducing effective and safe medical technologies to the marketplace.”

Because efforts to bring medical devices to market are seated in a multifaceted landscape, scholars who complete the program serve as ambassadors for improved communications.

“I am looking forward to contributing to policy development, improving review processes and finding ways to further strengthen relationships and communication among researchers, biomedical companies and the FDA,” Chen said.

He said nanomedicine promises to yield significant advances in diagnostics and therapeutics, “but a clear understanding of the interactions between nanoparticles and biological environments is critical.”

“One of the focuses of my graduate research has involved developing spectral approaches to quantify changes in the optical properties of nanoparticles in biological systems,” he said.

Chen’s doctoral research at Rice has been supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and a National Institutes of Health Nanobiology Interdisciplinary Graduate Training Fellowship. He also has a B.S. in bioengineering with a business minor from Rice. He completed much of his undergraduate research and contributions as a Rice Century Scholar in Professor Naomi Halas’ Laboratory for Nanophotonics.

–Shawn Hutchins is a science writer and Web specialist for the Department of Bioengineering.

About Jade Boyd

Jade Boyd is science editor and associate director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.