Undergraduate Research Program

Tai Nguyen

Tai smiling in front of a lakeMajor: B.S. Biochemistry; B.S. Biology (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental)
Mentor: Dr. Ray Monnat and Weiliang Tang; Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology

Contact: hipwin@uw.edu

Current research project: Fanconi Anemia Head and Neck Cancer Cell Line Resource


Tai is a senior at the University of Washington studying biochemistry and molecular, cellular & developmental biology. He has been conducting research in Dr. Ray Monnat’s lab since spring 2018, where he has worked to establish human disease models for translational research. His research interests include cancer biology, cancer metabolism and genomics. When he’s not doing research, Tai enjoys hiking and bouldering.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Fanconi Anemia (FA) is a rare, genetic disease characterized by bone marrow failure and cancer predisposition, particularly head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). These patients have a 500-1000-fold higher risk of developing this disease in their lifetime compared to the general population. The origins of these cancers are not well understood and current treatment options are limited. My research is focused on generating a cell line resource that would facilitate translational research on FA-derived HNSCC.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved with undergraduate research towards the end of my freshman year at UW. I had always been fascinated about science and medicine and wanted to explore what biomedical research had to offer. I reached out to Dr. Monnat expressing my interest after exploring his lab website and the rest was history.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
If you find a lab that is conducting research that aligns with your interest, don’t be afraid to reach out! There isn’t a right time to get involved in research, so don’t feel intimidated. The mentors in the lab are understanding and there to support your growth as a scientist and student. As long as you approach your research experience with an open mind, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn, it will be rewarding!