While some might be driven to innovate by a desire to make a mark on the science community, Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green’s cancer research is driven by something much closer to home – the loss of some of her closest family members to the disease.

After losing both of her parents at a young age, Green was taken in by her aunt and uncle in St. Louis. While in college, her aunt was diagnosed with cancer but refused chemotherapy due to a fear of the side effects that might follow. Three months after her passing, Green’s uncle received the same fateful diagnosis. In watching him undergo the heavy physical and mental stress of chemotherapy and radiation, she became dedicated to finding a less invasive form of treatment.

Now, armed with a $1.1 million grant from the Veterans Affairs Historically Black Colleges and Universities Research Scientist Training Program, Green is hoping to further her research on using nanoparticles to help target cancer-ridden cells. A drug containing the nanoparticles would make the cancerous cells glow, allowing for them to be targeted with a laser while avoiding the healthy cells around them.

She isn’t the first to discover this technology, but Green has been able to advance the technology beyond those who attempted it before her, working out the issues and seeing successful use of the treatment in mice. With the help of the grant money, she hopes to patent the technology and carry out clinical trials. Her ultimate goal, however, is to extend the life expectancy of cancer patients and give them a viable hope for recovery.

While her work in creating a non-invasive treatment for cancer is notable to say the least, there are several other stats that point to just how impressive Green is. In addition to being the first person in her family to graduate college and one of only two women to earn a PhD in physics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, she is now one of only 100 black female physicists in the United States.

In an interview with AL.com, she explained, “There are black female scientists who don’t get media exposure. Because of that, young black girls don’t see those role models as often as they see Beyonce or Nicki Minaj. It’s important to know that our brains are capable of more than fashion and entertainment and music, even though the arts are important. I know my responsibility is to encourage and mentor the next generation.”

Learn more about Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green and her amazing contributions to cancer research: http://girltalkhq.com/dr-hadiyah-nicole-green-a-woman-of-color-in-the-science-world-is-breaking-new-ground-in-cancer-research/