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UMass Chan clinician-scientist Tammy Nguyen named Wylie Scholar for research on nonhealing diabetic foot ulcers

Wylie Scholars demonstrate skills and interests in vascular research, vascular surgery, teaching and leadership

By Bryan Goodchild and Colleen Locke

UMass Chan Medical School Communications

August 25, 2022

More than 30 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are at risk of developing a foot ulcer. About half of the patients Tammy T. Nguyen, MD, PhD, sees at UMass Memorial Medical Center with diabetes and peripheral arterial disease require a lower-extremity amputation because of uncontrolled infections in their feet.

“This causes a dramatic detriment to someone’s lifestyle, not being able to walk on their feet and losing their independence,” said Dr. Nguyen, assistant professor of surgery at UMass Chan Medical School and the medical director of the Vascular Surgery Lower Extremity Wound Clinic at UMass Memorial Medical Center.

The nonprofit Vascular Cures has awarded Nguyen the 2022 Wylie Scholar Award for her research project exploring how the diabetic immune system contributes to nonhealing ulcers. She wants to understand why nonhealing foot ulcers develop in the diabetic population and how amputations can be prevented. Nguyen has developed a novel method to collect and expand human stem cells directly from the bone marrow of diabetic and nondiabetic patient donors that underwent lower extremity amputation for nonhealing wounds.

The Wylie Scholar Program provides career development grants to outstanding young vascular surgeon-scientists who combine active patient care with academic research. Scholars demonstrate skills and interests in vascular research, vascular surgery, teaching and leadership. The grants are for up to $150,000, payable over the course of three years.

“It’s an affirmation of the value of the work and the talent of the investigator,” said Silvia Corvera, MD, the Endowed Chair in Diabetes Research and professor of molecular medicine at UMass Chan, who has been a mentor to Nguyen.

“I have no doubt that over the years Tammy is going to transform our understanding of how wound healing works, both in diabetics and nondiabetics,” said Andres Schanzer, MD, professor of surgery at UMass Chan and chief of the Division of Vascular Surgery at UMass Memorial Health.

Nguyen joined the UMass Chan faculty in 2020 after completing her residency here. The Southern California native is an MD/PhD graduate of the University of Utah School of Medicine. Her PhD is in biochemistry.

Related UMass Chan news story:
Tammy Nguyen to use early career award to investigate why diabetics have a hard time healing