Untold stories of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Truong Xuan Lien – lecturer of the Faculty of Pharmacy - Star of the legion of honor for contribution to medical development

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Assoc. Prof. Dr. Truong Xuan Lien – Former Director of Institut Pasteur in HCMC and currently a lecturer of the Faculty of Pharmacy at Van Lang University. In 2018, she was awarded a Star of the Legion Honor for her contribution to the France-Vietnam joint research study on HIV/AIDS.

The star of the Legion of Honor was introduced by Napoléon Bonaparte – the King of France, in 1808. It is an honorable award for individuals and organizations with a significant contribution. Star of the Legion of Honor's receivers become members of the Legion of Honor (French: Légion d'honneur) or légionnaire. Among Vietnamese who received this award, Assoc.Prof.Dr. Truong Xuan Lien was known for her persistent contribution as the program coordinator of the France-Vietnam joint project in HIV/AIDS, offering significant development for Vietnam.

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She worked at Institut Pasteur in HCMC from 1977 to 2016 and was among the pioneers in studying HIV – the cause of the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

In December 1990, the HIV/AIDS research lab of Institut Pasteur in HCMC discovered the first case of HIV patients in Vietnam. In 1994, Dr. Truong Xuan Lien was sent to the Retro Research Lab – Institut Pasteur in Paris to intern under Prof.Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi’s supervision. In 1995, the first study on the molecular pathological epidemiology of HIV was published in Vietnam thanks to the partnership between the Institut Pasteur in Vietnam and Paris.

Those research outcomes were the foundation for the joint study project between Vietnam's Ministry of Health and the National Agency for AIDS Research (ANRS), firstly signed in 1995. In 200, the frameworks for scientific research cooperation between Vietnam's MoH and ANRS was signed; a new study center with ANRS was founded, so Prof.Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi was assigned as the project coordinator from France's counterpart and Assoc.Prof.Dr. Truong Xuan Lien was appointed by the MoH as Vietnam's project coordinator.

The new establishment for HIV/AIDS study in Asia facilitated the international partner network development in scientific research and HIV/AIDS preventing activities between France and other Southeast Asian countries.

The France-Vietnam joint research project on HIV/AIDS had significantly contributed to many fields such as fundamental sciences, healthcare, treatment, clinical trials, social sciences, and business; which attracted the participation of many interdisciplinary organizations such as research institutes, hospitals, universities, NGO, and other international organizations. The initial project that took place in HCMC was extended to other provinces such as Hanoi and Hai Phong.

Thanks to the "continuous scientist training model to help strengthen the capabilities of the partner organizations, transfer technology and execute scientific research projects," the partnership between Vietnam and France in HIV/AIDS prevention yielded significant results and contributed to the firm and efficient scientific and technological foundations for scientific research activities, clinical trials, and other social sciences fields in Vietnam. The joint programs also helped enhance Vietnamese scholars' research capabilities, resulting in many internationally recognized studies on HIV/AIDS and creating more opportunities for research cooperation with other countries. The joint research project initially started in HCMC had extended to other provinces such as Hanoi and Hanoi and broadened the research disciplines to other infectious diseases such as HCV, tuberculosis, and pneumonia.

In November 2021, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Truong Xuan Lien was awarded a star of the Legion of Honor for her selfless contribution to medical developments by the representative of France. Dr. Luan Lien shared her memories when receiving the honorable award: "I was conferred a star of the Legion of Honor just before 20 November 2018 (Vietnamese Teacher's Day). Although it has happened for several years, I still remember the blissful and proud moments and my appreciation for my French and Vietnamese colleagues during my 20-year journey. The award was not an act of recognition for me alone, but also for all the colleagues from both nations devoting themselves to study HIV/AIDS."

Among her friends and colleagues, she is always grateful for Prof. Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi – Nobel winner in Medical fields in 2008, who had agreed to instruct her dissertation in France. Prof. Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi used to say: "In the last 25 years, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Truong Xuan Lien was a woman of devotion for her career of continuous studies. She is among the scholars who significantly contribute to the France-Vietnam joint research project in HIV/AIDS."

After she retired from Institut Pasteur in HCMC, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Truong Xuan Lien has been working at the Faculty of Pharmacy at Van Lang University since 2020. In the previous years, she is lecturing the core subjects for the students of Pharmacy, Medical Testing, Molecular Biology, and Immunology.

Vietnamese women have been devoting signficant contributions in most fields such as medicine, education, business, and politics. As October is the month to honor Vietnamese women, Van Lang's Student Magazine would like to express appreciation for the women's contribution to society. We wish Assoc. Prof. Dr. Truong Xuan Lien is the best health to devote to Vietnam's medical and educational development.

Reporter: Nam Vuong
Translated by: An Pham

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