A member of the Department of Biomedical Engineering’s first doctoral cohort is honored by the American Heart Association

student wearing lab coat, mask and gloves working in a hood

Kate Luu received a predoctoral fellowship from the American Heart Association

As NYU Tandon was preparing to  launch an official Department of Biomedical Engineering, the School’s website asserted: “There may be few other fields that can match the excitement and promise of biomedical engineering. When engineers collaborate with physicians and medical researchers to develop systems and devices to solve clinical problems, the results can be transformative.”

Kate Luu, who had earned her bachelor’s degree in the discipline from the University of Connecticut in 2021, recognized immediately that the newly launched department was perfectly aligned with her interests. “Since high school, I have been fascinated by the possibilities of doing translational research, and Professor Hielscher, the department chair, is strongly focused on practical work that can go from lab bench to patient bedside in a timely way,” she says. “It’s very satisfying to know your research is going to have a positive real-world impact on people.” 

Luu is currently studying vascular cell mechanobiology. She explains that as a person ages, the cells in the blood vessels get stiff and do not contract properly, leading to aneurysm and other heart conditions. “We’re trying to learn exactly why this happens, what factors contribute to it, and whether it can be reversed,” she says.

Her work, which she is conducting under the supervision of Professor Weiqiang Chen, recently caught the attention of the American Heart Association (AHA). The organization awarded her a prestigious predoctoral fellowship, aimed at research “broadly related to fulfilling our mission to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives,” as the AHA website states. Her research was deemed to be in the top 5% of all the predoctoral proposals the group reviewed this past year, and the two-year fellowship will help Luu to complete her project. 

“My family knew that the U.S. was a land of educational opportunity, so they encouraged me to leave Vietnam as a teenager, in order to pursue my ambitions,” she recalls. “This honor from the AHA affirms that it was the right choice.”