I was a refugee from Vietnam and settled in Australia in 1982 after approximately 1 yr in various refugee camps in Thailand. I have documented that lucky journey in a blog entry here and through a series of photos.
My life and career have revolved mainly around the St Vincent’s Hospital campus. Shortly after arriving in Australia, I worked as a kitchen hand at St Vincent’s Hospital, and in the mean time, pursued graduate studies in biostatistics and epidemiology in Macquarie and Sydney universities. In 1990, I was back to St Vincent’s campus to work on my PhD (medicine, genetics of osteoporosis) and the Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology Study which was initiated by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. Then, after a 3-yr stint as an Associate Professor in Medicine at the WSU School of Medicine (USA), in 2001 I again returned to the Garvan Institute to head the Epidemiology and Genetics of Osteoporosis Laboratory. Currently, I am a Principal Investigator of the Dubbo study, and a Senior Principal Fellow of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. On 10/9/2021 I left the Garvan Institute (after 30 years of services) to consolidate my research activities at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).
In 2008, I was awarded a NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship, and in the same year, I was promoted to full Professor at the UNSW School of Public Health and Community Medicine and the St Vincent’s Clinical School. I also hold appointments as a Professor of Predictive Medicine, University of Technology Sydney, and Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics of the School of Medicine, University of Notre Dame, Australia. Apart from a degree in biostatistics, I also hold two doctorates in science and medicine. I am the 33rd academic who was awarded the thesis-based D.Sc. degree by UNSW Sydney based on my distinguished contributions to osteoporosis research and the assessment of osteoporotic fracture. In 2020, I was awarded a NHMRC Leadership Fellowship Level III (former Australia Fellowship) to continue my research on the genetics of bone loss.
My research group
My research group is consisted of two laboratories (one in Australia and one in Vietnam) that conduct research primarily in osteoporosis. However, in recent years my lab in Vietnam has expanded our research in obesity, diabetes and cancer. My present team brings together nationally and internationally recognized expertise in osteoporosis, genetics, epidemiology and biostatistics.
- Director, Centre for Health Technologies, University of Technology Sydney (UTS, from 2021).
- Distinguished Professor, Predictive Medicine, School of Biomedical Engineering, University of Technology Sydney, Australia.
- Conjoint Professor, St Vincent’s Clinical School and School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Medicine, UNSW Sydney.
- Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Medicine Sydney, University of Notre Dame Australia.
- Senior Principal Research Fellow, Garvan Institute of Medical Research. Laboratory Head, Genetics of Osteoporosis Lab, Garvan Institute of Medical Research (till 10/9/2021)
- osteoporosis and bone phenotypes.
- experimental design of clinical studies, including clinical trials and various omics studies.
- assessment of bone loss and bone strength in human.
- individualized assessment of fracture risk.
- predictive modeling.
- Bayesian inference in medicine and advanced analysis of complex data.
- Give invited lectures or lectures in more than 50 major scientific meetings in USA, Europe, Asia, and Vietnam.
- Executive Member, Asia Pacific Consortium on Osteoporosis (APCO)
- Associate Editor, Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease and Osteoporosis and Sarcopenia
- Biostatistics Editor for Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease
- Academic Editor of Scientific Reports, PLoS ONE, PeerJ; former Associate Editor of J Bone Miner Res
- Member of Publication Committee of American Society of Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR, 2008 – 2012).
- Editorial Board of Calcified Tissue Int, Osteoporosis International, Journal of Endocrine Society, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Bone, Osteoporosis and Sarcopenia.
- Expert reviewer for more than 20 journals in the world, including Lancet, BMJ, JAMA, New England Journal of Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine.
Vietnam & Asia involvement
I love my native country. I consider that one way to develop Vietnam’s medical science is to improve research capacity for local colleagues, and that is why I have devoted my effort to do just that. Over the past 20 yr or so, I have conducted many collaborative research and training in Vietnam, and some highlights are:
- Co-director of the Bone and Muscle Research Laboratory, Ton Duc Thang University.
- Executive member of the Asia Pacific Consortium on Osteoporosis.
- Founding member of the Vietnam Osteoporosis Society of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Chairing the scientific committees of the Society.
- Chair of Scientific Committee, 16th Congress of the ASEAN Federation of Endocrine Societies (2011).
- Extensive research collaboration with many colleagues in Vietnam, resulted in more than 40 peer-reviewed publications over the past 20 years. I have become one of the most prolific authors from Vietnam!
- Supervision of 5 PhD students in Vietnam. Actually, I have supervised more than 5 students, but some were not official even though the supervision resulted in peer reviewed publications!
- Published 15 books in osteoporosis, evidence based medicine, research methodology, education, and science. I did gather data to write the first book documenting the residual effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam.
- Visiting Professor of Hanoi Medical University (2012).
- Visiting Professor of Khon Kaen University Faculty of Medicine, Thailand (2013).
- Distinguished Visiting Professor and Senior Advisor of Ton Duc Thang University (TDTU), Vice-chair of TDTU Board of Teaching and Research, Chair of TDTU Prize, Chair of the Committee for Appointment and Promotion.
- Distinguished Visiting Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Da Nang.
- A founder of the Department of Clinical Epidemiology at the Faculty of Medicine (University of Da Nang).
- Initiated one of Asia’s largest studies, the Vietnam Osteoporosis Study, that involved more than 4000 men and women.
- Conducted more than 20 workshops (5-day to 14-day) in osteoporosis, evidence-based medicine, research methodology and scientific writing for more than 2000 doctors and professionals in Vietnam. I have taught or lectured in virtually all medical schools and major hospitals in the North, Central and South Vietnam: Saigon, Hanoi, Thai Nguyen, Hai Phong, Hue, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Binh Dinh, Tuy Hoa, Tien Giang, Dong Thap, Ben Tre, Tra Vinh, Can Tho, An Giang, and my hometown Kien Giang.
- PhD (UNSW 1997). Thesis: Contribution of Genetic and Environmental Factors to the Determination of Osteoporotic Fractures. (Best thesis award, UNSW).
- DSc (UNSW 2016). Thesis: Contributions to Osteoporosis Research.
Awards and honors
- Appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), 2022.
- Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales (2022).
- Leadership Fellow (former Australia Fellow), Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC, 2020)
- Elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health & Medical Sciences (AAHMS, 2019)
- Elected Fellow of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (2018).
- UTS Chancellor’s Medal for Exceptional Research (2018)
- Professor Honoris Causa of Hanoi Univeristy of Pharmacy (2018)
- Distinguished Visiting Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Danang, Vietnam (2017)
- Distinguished Visiting Professor, Ton Duc Thang University, Vietnam (2016)
- Senior Research Fellowship of the Australian National Health Medical Research Council (2008)
- Award from the Foreign Minister of Vietnam for contribution to higher education and science in Vietnam.
- Garvan’s Best Thesis Award (1998). This is an annual award to the best PhD thesis submitted to the University of New South Wales
- Excellence in research. University of New South Wales and St Vincent’s 7th Research Symposium (1995, 1997)
- American Society for Bone and Mineral Research Award for outstanding research into bone metabolism disorders, Cincinnatti OH 1997.
- Sandoz Award for outstanding research and best presentation in bone and mineral research, Auckland, NZ 1995.
- American Society for Bone and Mineral Research Award for outstanding research into bone metabolism disorders, Minneapolis, MN 1994.
Selected awards to research students under my supervision:
- 2018 The Christine and T Jack Martin Award from the IBMS-ANZBMS (International Bone and Mineral Society and Australian New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society (Thao Ho-Le)
- 2017 Sol Posen Research Paper Award, ANZBMS (Thao Ho-Le)
- 2017 ASBMR Young Investigator Award (Thao Ho-Le)
- 2017 UTS High Quality Publication Award (Thao Ho-Le)
- 2016 Amgen-ANZBMS Outstanding Abstract Award (Thao Ho-Le)
- 2010 Roger Mellick Young Investigator Award from ANZBMS (Shuman Yang)
- 2009 The Christine and T Jack Martin Award from the IBMS-ANZBMS (International Bone and Mineral Society and Australian New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society) (Bich Tran).
- 2009 Solander Award, UNSW Sydney (Bich Tran)
- 2008 The Harvey Carey Award from the UNSW Sydney (Bich Tran)
- 2008 Best Research Award, UNSW School of Public Health and Community Medicine (Steven Frost)
- 2007 Young Investigator from the ASBMR (American Society for Bone and Mineral Research) (Bich Tran)
- 2006 ASBMR Young Investigator (Nguyen D. Nguyen)
- 2006 European Calcified Tissue Society Young Investigator Award (Nguyen D. Nguyen)
- 2005 IBMS Young Investigator Award (Nguyen D. Nguyen)
- 2005 ANZBMS Outstanding Poster Award (Nguyen D. Nguyen)
My life story and honors
Over the past 20 years or so, the popular media has been fascinated by my life journey, and they have interviewed me or asked me to share my thoughts on refugee, science, medicine and education. Most of the interviews were conducted in Vietnamese, but few are in English. Here is the short list of interviews that I have attended:
The Guardian (2017) From refugee to the heights of Australian medical research
Garvan News: Professor Tuan Nguyen Receives UNSW Sydney’s Highest Award
Garvan: 25 years with the Garvan Institute.
UNSW Graduation of Doctor of Science (from 1:10:05)
Tạp chí Sức khoẻ (2020) “Trò chuyện cùng Giáo Sư Nguyễn Văn Tuấn: Khắc tên Việt trong thế giới loãng xương“
Người lao động (2020): “Tôi là người Việt Nam“.
Báo Sức khoẻ và Đời sống (2008): Người khắc tên Việt Nam trong thế giới loãng xương.
Báo Bình Định (2008): Trên hết, tôi là một người con đất Việt
Báo Sài Gòn Tiếp Thị (2005): Cảm xúc mới trong không gian mới.
Đài VTC (2019)
Radio SBS (Australia, 2018)
Radio RFI (Frace, 2009)