Asian Pacific Heritage Month – Honoring Tuan Vo Dinh
Continuing our series of spotlighting Asian Pacific American inventors to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage month, highlighting Dr. Tuan Vo-Dinh, a trailblazer in medical research, particularly in the field of early diagnosis of cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Dr. Tuan Vo-Dinh was born on April 11, 1948, in Nha Trang, Vietnam. He subsequently immigrated to Switzerland in the late 1960’s and attended university and graduate school in Switzerland, earning a Ph.D. in Biophysical Chemistry in 1974.
Dr. Vo-Dinh immigrated to the United States in 1975. Dr. Vo-Dinh was employed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) as a staff scientist, researching techniques to monitor biomarkers and chemical pollutants. By 2006, Dr. Vo-Dinh was leading teams in the development of technologies useful in developing photonic techniques for use, for example, in detecting pollutants such as PCBs and diagnosing certain medical conditions. Dr. Vo-Dinh is the current director of the Fitzpatrick Institute for Photonics at Duke University, providing leadership and guidance in biophotonics, nanophotonics, quantum optics and information photonics, and theoretical modeling and novel spectroscopies.
Fundamental research on the synchronous luminescence (SL) methodology by Dr. Vo-Dinh has provided foundations for a variety of medical and environmental applications. For example, SL was applied at the National Cancer Institute to detect cancer via carcinogen-DNA adducts, providing for a more simple and cost-effective technique to detect carcinogen-DNA cancer in animals and humans. Indeed, since the early 1980s, most spectrometer companies have now incorporated SL as a standard feature in modern luminescence instruments. Dr. Vo-Dinh’s SL technique is also being used at U.S. companies to lower the cost of quality assurance and environmental control procedures to detect a variety of environmental pollutants.
Dr. Vo-Dinh continues to lead research for early diagnosis of a wide variety of diseases. He is also currently researching star-shaped nanobodies made of gold to work like “lightning rods” for laser energy-based cancer treatment. His synergistic immuno photothermal nanotherapy (SYMPHONY) may eradicate primary tumors as well as distant “untreated” tumors.
Dr. Vo-Dinh was has won many awards and accolades. The Analytical Scientist named him as part of the 100 most influential scientists in 2013, and The Daily Mail recognized him as one of the top 100 living geniuses in 2007. His work may truly shed “new light” into curing cancer.