UCI Scientist and Cello Player Dominique Ingato Uses Nanotechnology to Design a Better Future for Leukemia Patients

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Dominique Ingato, a truly creative thinker and graduate student in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Ph.D. program, is contributing to advances in nanotechnology at UCI that may significantly change the way cancer is treated. 

Dominique was recently awarded the Fletcher Jones Fellowship, which is dissertation award given to one student campus-wide each year.  She plans to use this opportunity to focus completely on her research, attending conferences and presenting her work to others.

“I am honored to receive the prestigious Fletcher Jones Fellowship,” she says.  “Known for his creativity and ingenuity, Fletcher Jones is truly inspiring to me. I will work towards demonstrating those same characteristics as I continue my doctoral research.”

Her work focuses specifically on treating leukemia cells using nanotechnology-designed “killer” cells.  These immune cells naturally occur in our bodies, but are often too large to penetrate areas that are already overtaken by cancer.  The nano-sized “killer” cells are much smaller than normal cells and are able to surround and infiltrate the affected areas.

Dominique’s work is crucially important, as well as time-sensitive, because leukemia and similar blood cancers are the most common cancers in children and are among the top 10 percent of diagnosed cancers in the United States. “Therefore, there is an urgent need for a targeted and biocompatible leukemia therapy. I hope that my research will lead to improved therapies that will positively impact leukemia patients worldwide,” she says.  Dominique hopes to demonstrate a method for treating leukemia using cell-derived nano-particles, while still a doctoral student at UCI.

In addition, she is an engaged member of the UCI community, and currently serves as the DECADE Education Chair and the Engineering Graduate Studies Committee Student Representative.  In these capacities, she hopes to create an inclusive and supportive environment for students to achieve their academic and career goals.

When she is not researching ways to potentially save lives and change the medical landscape, she spends several hours each week practicing the cello.  Dominique has performed with the Symphony Irvine; The Orange County Symphony; and The Orchestra Collective of Orange County, as a way to balance her energies.

She emphasizes the importance of a life outside of work so that she can be focused and relaxed when she returns to the lab.  In addition to all this, or perhaps at the root of her successes, Dominique is an extremely optimistic person, quoting the innovator Elon Musk; “If you get up in the morning and think the future is going to be better, it is a bright day.”


Dominique