Award-winning doctor wins global recognition for osteoporosis research

Dr Ho Pham Thuc Lan began her medical career in an unconventional way.

“When I was in high school, my younger sister became severely ill and had to be hospitalised. An attending doctor told my parents to take her home because my parents couldn't afford the cost of treatment," Lan recalls. 

Award-winning doctor wins global recognition for osteoporosis research
Dr Ho Pham Thuc Lan examines a patient. Photo courtesy of Dr Lan

"I was shocked to see such a cold-hearted attitude from a doctor. Right at that moment, I became determined to become a doctor one day. I promised myself that I would never say the same thing to my patients."

Today, as a teacher at Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine, Lan has won local recognition as well as international acclaim.

After graduating from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy of HCM City, Lan worked at People’s Hospital 115 where she met patients with all sorts of diagnoses. Many of the cases were not curable, but some were preventable.

“I regard the elimination of suffering as an important role. We doctors can eliminate or reduce suffering by using affordable treatments. We can also help reduce patients' pain by showing empathy. I found that the behaviours of touching, listening, talking and smiling can positively contribute to patients' well-being,” she said.

Osteoporosis research

During her career, Lan has treated many patients with severe complications caused by osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

“That's why I have focused my research on these disorders,” she says, adding that more than 1,000 volunteers have been involved in her research efforts.

“I start with simple questions, like finding out how many people have osteoporosis, and how and why the disease began, and then move on to more advanced questions such as the criteria used in diagnosis or whether diabetes is related to bone health.”

Her research has attempted to address these questions, many of which are based on real-world observations. “I asked myself, for example, whether vegans have a higher risk of osteoporosis than non-vegans.”

Lan's research on veganism and its possible relation to osteoporosis and vertebral fracture showed that veganism does not adversely affect bone health.

She presented her research at the 2nd Congress of the Strong Bone Asia Conference in 2008, and subsequently published her findings in a prestigious journal, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"My paper has received more than 160 citations from colleagues worldwide," she says.

Since no organisation would fund her study, Lan had to pay for it herself. But her research results and international recognition led authorities to fund subsequent projects.

At the time she conducted her research on osteoporosis, only a few studies on the topic had been done in Vietnam. There was little information about the risk factors for osteoporosis or the magnitude of the problem in the country.

“My colleagues and I carried out a large-scale study to fill the gaps in knowledge. We also examined the effects of genes and environmental factors on osteoporosis,” she says.

 

Her studies showed that the prevalence of osteoporosis in Vietnamese aged 50 years and older was 28 per cent for women and 11 per cent for men.

Many of her studies, which were the first done in Vietnam, contributed to insights into the diseases, leading to better practice and diagnoses.

One of her studies involved research on genes that affect the bone size of Vietnamese. The collaborative research was published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Communications.
Another research study, on the association between diabetes and bone density, showed that diabetic patients had high trabecular (sponge-like) bone density but lower cortical (hard) bone density. The study was published in the journal Osteoporosis International last year.

Lifelong learner

Lan is also keen to improve the presence of the work of Vietnamese scientists in the international arena, and has done her part to present her work at international scientific conferences and fora.

"Compared to other Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, Vietnam has had a modest presence in the medical literature and in international scientific fora,” Lan says.

Besides doing research, she has shared her research findings with the general community. Four years ago, she launched a community health programme to provide free counselling and health examination on the weekends to people in District 7.

She also set up the website www.suckhoexuong.vn to provide useful and science-based information about osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

As a lifelong learner, Lan always enjoys learning something new as part of her research. “Research is very useful because it provides an opportunity to learn the latest knowledge, and it's wonderful to see students get involved in research."

Asked about her challenges, she says that funding is the major problem.

Because she does not have a PhD, Lan was not eligible to apply for funding from the National Foundation for Science and Technology Development. Ton Duc Thang University and the city's Department of Science and Technology have funded her research projects over the past 10 years.

Cancer research

Currently, she is turning her attention to cancer. In Vietnam, most cancer patients admitted to hospitals for treatment are in the late stages of the disease. Lan and her colleagues at Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine are conducting a major research project to improve early diagnosis of cancer.

Award-winning doctor wins global recognition for osteoporosis research
Dr Ho Pham Thuc Lan teaching students at Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine in HCM City. VNS Photo Dinh Hang


The project involves the collaboration of the Oncology Hospital of HCM City, Binh Dan Hospital, University Medical Centre, Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia, and Johns Hopkins University’s Centre for Genetics and Oncology Treatment in the US.

Lan has received many awards for her research. This year, she was recognised with the 2019 Vietnamese Women Award. Previously, she was awarded the L’Oreal - Unesco 2015 Prize, the Alexandre Yersin Award for Outstanding Publication, and the HCM City Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Association Prize for Excellence in Medical Research. VNS

Gia Loc

 
 

Other News

.
Internet speed index in Vietnam to be updated regularly
Internet speed index in Vietnam to be updated regularly
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  11/08/2021 

The Department of Telecom at the Ministry of Information and Communications will publish the weekly index of Vietnam’s internet quality on its portal starting this month, announced the Vietnam Internet Network Information Center (VNNIC) on August 11.

CyberKid Vietnam joins hands with global security firm to protect children online
CyberKid Vietnam joins hands with global security firm to protect children online
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  10/08/2021 

CyberKid Vietnam is the first social organization in Vietnam with 100% Vietnamese ideas, owned and operated by Vietnamese to protect and support Vietnamese children in cyberspace.

Conservation programs put on hold with access denied due to spread of COVID
Conservation programs put on hold with access denied due to spread of COVID
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  10/08/2021 

Biodiversity conservation projects and forest protection in the central highlands region, over the past two years, have been either delayed or suspended as travel and mass gathering activities are limited by COVID-19 prevention measures.

Platform supports remote medical examinations in 100% of districts
Platform supports remote medical examinations in 100% of districts
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  10/08/2021 

The Ministry of Communications and Information has announced the connection of a platform that supports medical examinations from a distance to districts, and the inauguration of the National Technology Center for Covid-19 Prevention and Control.

Bioplastic start-up begins green journey
Bioplastic start-up begins green journey
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  11/08/2021 

Having worked in biopolymer research for more than a decade, Doan Van Tung in HCM City began his adventure by founding the iGreen development company in 2020

8 of 17 tigers die after being rescued from cages in Nghe An
8 of 17 tigers die after being rescued from cages in Nghe An
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  09/08/2021 

After the police force in the central province of Nghe An rescued 17 adult tigers illegally raised in cages by two families in Do Thanh commune in Yen Thanh district, Nghe An province, eight of the tigers died.

Pham Duc Long appointed Deputy Minister of Information and Communications
Pham Duc Long appointed Deputy Minister of Information and Communications
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  09/08/2021 

The Prime Minister has appointed Mr. Pham Duc Long as Deputy Minister of Information and Communications.

5 million farmer households to sell produce online this year
5 million farmer households to sell produce online this year
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  08/08/2021 

Postmart and Voso have trained farmers to organize livestreams, and advertise their products by shooting video or taking photo. They can create their own booths and sell products on these floors even during the time of social distancing.

Vietnam looks to become AI hub in ASEAN by 2030
Vietnam looks to become AI hub in ASEAN by 2030
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  08/08/2021 

The Vietnamese Government has issued a national strategy on the research, development and application of artificial intelligence (AI) till 2030 with a view to gradually turning Vietnam into an innovation and AI hub in ASEAN and the world.

Garbage piles up in Ha Long City
Garbage piles up in Ha Long City
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  07/08/2021 

The tourist city of Ha Long in Quang Ninh province has been flooded with garbage in recent days.

Population database-based COVID-19 vaccination management system to be launched
Population database-based COVID-19 vaccination management system to be launched
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  07/08/2021 

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has agreed with the Ministry of Public Security’s proposal on the application of COVID-19 vaccination management system on the foundation of the national population database.

17 tigers illegally caged in Nghe An
17 tigers illegally caged in Nghe An
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  06/08/2021 

The police agency of the central province of Nghe An on August 4 discovered 17 tigers illegally raised by two households.

Results of research on Nanocovax vaccine published in open-data science portal
Results of research on Nanocovax vaccine published in open-data science portal
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  06/08/2021 

Nanogen, a Vietnamese biotechnology and pharmacy firm, has published two scientific articles on the results of research on the Nanocovax vaccine.

Students create AI-based robot arm priced at VND1 million
Students create AI-based robot arm priced at VND1 million
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  07/08/2021 

With just VND1.2 million and a passion for scientific research, a group of students has successfully assembled a robot arm controlled by image recognition.

National unified, interconnected anti-epidemic technology platforms
National unified, interconnected anti-epidemic technology platforms
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  05/08/2021 

There are a number of unified, nationwide IT platforms that will best serve the prevention of the Covid-19 epidemic in Vietnam.

'I’m not a dollar billionaire': Axie Infinity CEO
'I’m not a dollar billionaire': Axie Infinity CEO
FEATUREicon  07/08/2021 

CEO Nguyen Thanh Trung said that he is not a dollar millionaire, explaining that the market capitalization of AXS tokens is different from the capitalization of Sky Mavis.

People complain about slow internet speed during social distancing
People complain about slow internet speed during social distancing
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  05/08/2021 

Internet service providers are bearing pressure as people’s daily activities now rely more on the internet during social distancing.

Telecom companies announce 435 million USD COVID-19 support package
Telecom companies announce 435 million USD COVID-19 support package
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  03/08/2021 

Vietnam’s major telecom companies including Viettel, VNPT, Mobifone, CMC, FPT, Vietnamobile, and SCTV have announced a joint support package worth VND10 trillion ($435 million) for consumers across the country.

Millions of people register for vaccinations via app
Millions of people register for vaccinations via app
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  04/08/2021 

The application is designed for people to actively register for vaccinations, make medical declarations, update post-vaccination reactions and get electronic vaccination certificates.

AAG undersea cable fixed, Internet speed back to normal
AAG undersea cable fixed, Internet speed back to normal
SCI-TECH & ENVIRONMENTicon  03/08/2021 

The incident occurring on July 19 on the AAG international undersea fiber optic cable route has been fixed. International Internet services resumed on July 31.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN