A Spartan changing the way we fight cancer

College of Engineering

The assistant professor Carolina de Aguiar Ferreira has the resources at Michigan State University to precisely target cancer cells with diagnostics and therapies using radioisotopes produced by what is designed to be the world’s most powerful heavy-ion accelerator.

She works in the highly collaborative Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering, or IQ, and the isotopes come from the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science user facility located in the heart of campus.

When considering where to pursue her career, she knew MSU provided the perfect environment.

“I wanted to work in a place where people work together,” de Aguiar Ferreira says. “We learn better together. We teach better together. We discover better together.”

De Aguiar Ferreira’s commitment to community took root while she was growing up in Brazil, where her love of science also bloomed.

As a child, de Aguiar Ferreira played games with her pharmacist grandfather designed to stoke her curiosity. In town, he was also known as “the alchemist” for his ability to diagnose and treat his neighbors’ illnesses.

He died while she was in graduate school, but in his loss, she also found validation. Her grandfather, who helped inspire her career, had colon cancer, which was the focus of de Aguiar Ferreira’s research project.

“That was a sign to me that I was doing the right thing with my life,” she says.

Now in the colleges of Human Medicine and Engineering at MSU, she’s working with some of the top minds in her field and attracting some of the most talented students in the world to better treat cancer and improve lives.

“It makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger.”


This story was originally published by the College of Engineering.


About the MSU Innovation Center: 

The MSU Innovation Center is dedicated to fostering innovation, research commercialization, and entrepreneurial activities from the research and discovery happening across our campus every day. We act as the primary interface for researchers aiming to see their research applied to solving real-world problems and making the world a better place to live. We aim to empower faculty, researchers, and students within our community of scholars by providing them with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities to bring their discoveries to the forefront. Through strategic collaborations with the private sector, we aim to amplify the impact of faculty research and drive economic growth while positively impacting society. We foster mutually beneficial, long-term relationships with the private sector through corporate-sponsored research collaborations, technology licensing discussions, and support for faculty entrepreneurs to support the establishment of startup companies.   

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