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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Vanderbilt Scientists to Lead the Joint Effort to Promote Chronic Disease Research in Vietnam

Rapid economic growth, industrialization and widespread adoption of a Western lifestyle in Vietnam have been accompanied by an emerging epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, account for more than 72 percent of premature deaths globally, and low- and middle-income countries carry a disproportionate burden of those diseases. NCD research in Vietnam, however, is limited due to the lack of a population-based cancer registry, a dearth of well-trained investigators and the absence of proper research support infrastructure.

Wei Zheng & Xiao-ou Shu, Cancer Epidemiology by : Susan Urmy

[Photo: Dr. Xiao Ou Shu]

To address these challenges, scientists at the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), and the Vietnam National Institute of Cancer Control have been awarded a grant to plan and develop a Regional Center of Research Excellence in NCD research in Vietnam. The National Cancer Institute’s Center for Global Health is funding the P20 grant awards to support global partnerships between high-income countries and less affluent countries and to facilitate regional hubs to coordinate basic, translational, clinical and population science research in low-and middle-income countries.

The investigators will establish a multi-institutional U.S.-Vietnam-China partnership to plan for the creation of a self-sustaining, high-impact NCD research and training center in Vietnam and establishment of a large population-based cohort study for NCD research there.

Dr. Xiao Ou Shu, associate director for Global Health and co-leader of the Cancer Epidemiology Research Program at VICC, and Dr. Thuan Van Tran, director of the National Institute for Cancer Control in Vietnam, will serve as joint-principal investigators for the project. The University of South Florida and Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) will serve as coordinating centers for this initiative.

“I am pleased that we have been selected to help lead this important initiative to create a foundation of chronic disease research excellence in Vietnam,” says Dr. Shu. “Vanderbilt is well-regarded for our record of excellence in population-based science, research training and program building, particularly for leading NCD investigators in the Asia region.”

Dr. Shu also says she and her Vanderbilt colleagues are looking forward to forging closer ties with Vietnam’s National Institute for Cancer Control, the leader in cancer care and control in that country.

“Our regional partners, the Shanghai CDCP, Fudan University School of Public Health, and Shanghai Cancer Institute in China, will provide expertise in building non-communicable disease research and control programs that are most relevant to Vietnam. Our other partners, Hanoi Medical University and Hanoi School of Public Health, are major players in prevention research in Vietnam,” Dr. Shu says.

After assessing needs and capacity, the group will conduct in-country training workshops. The program will support site visits to the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center and Shanghai partner institutes, as well as short-term training for a Vietnam scholar at these institutes.

They also plan to conduct a case-control study for breast cancer and a community survey for type 2 diabetes, two NCDs of particular public health concern in Vietnam, and collect biospecimens as demonstration projects. Through these activities, the group will establish the infrastructure essential to epidemiology research and develop an array of study instruments and protocols for establishing a cohort study for NCDs in Vietnam. They will develop a plan to establish a longer-term research and training program for Vietnam that is relevant for its neighboring countries.

More information on the study is available at: