Huixin He Presented with Rutgers Presidential Fellowship for Teaching Excellence

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Nanochemist Huixin He deals in the world of the small to provide solutions for a wide array of areas ranging from cancer detection and treatment, to environmental protection, to homeland defense. She also is a well respected teacher known for her ability to make challenging scientific topics understandable and relevant to her students, for which she was awarded the 2009 Rutgers Presidential Fellowship for Teaching Excellence.

A highly regarded nanotechnology researcher whose focus is on practical applications, He teaches "Analytical Chemistry" for undergraduates, "Electrochemical Analytical Chemistry" for graduate students, and a new course she developed - "Scanning Probe Microscopy" - for seniors and graduate students.

Asked about her teaching methods, she responds, "I think the most important thing for teaching is enthusiasm and inspiring others; I try to connect the theoretical work with practical applications students can relate to." For example, her current research is focused on developing nanotechnology for early cancer diagnosis and for more targeted cancer treatments that eliminate the problems of side effects and drug resistance.

As reported in the Deceber 21, 2009 issue of Small, He and her co-researchers, including Tamara Minko from the Rutgers School of Pharmacy, have designed nanomaterials that allowed for the targeted, simultaneous delivery of a chemical drug to destroy cancer cells and a genetic drug to prevent drug resistance.

"The drugs are loaded into the pores of silica nanoparticles and we modified the surface so the chemical drug can only be released inside the cancer cells; this novel drug release mechanism can dramatically eliminate side effects associated with anticancer drugs to normal tissues," explains He.

In related research, He and her co-researchers have developed nanotubes that hold the potential of detecting and destroying an aggressive form of breast cancer. Her other research focuses on the development of nanotechnology as a molecular diagnostic tool for Parkinson's disease, and as devices to detect the presence of chemical warfare agents for homeland security and to measure iron ions in remote ocean areas for the study of climate change.

Kathleen Brunet Eagan