Vietnamese Talents
Female scientist invents biomedical materials to serve healthcare
  • | VNS | September 18, 2023 02:08 PM
Trần Diệu Linh, a scientist at the Institute of Chemistry under Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, has had a special curiosity about biology since childhood.

Trần Diệu Linh works at a lab at the Institute of Chemistry under Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology. Photo

When she was a child, Linh usually wandered in the garden, collecting flowers and leaves, then grinding and mixing them together to make medicine.

When she started school, she developed a special affection for the series Kính vạn hoa (Kaleidoscope) by the Vietnamese author Nguyễn Nhật Ánh and Harry Potter by the British author J.K. Rowling, which contained segments about concocting potions or poisons with fascinating chemical reactions.

This hobby became intertwined with her life, leading to new innovations in biomedical materials for treatment and disease diagnosis.

Growing up, Linh realised the presence of biomedical materials in her surroundings, from dental implants that her father had to get to replace a damaged tooth to the metal braces her cousin had to wear to treat a chest constriction.

"I realised the immense potential of biomedical materials in improving the quality of life and treating diseases. I became acutely aware of the critical role of scientific research in addressing human health issues," Linh told Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.

After completing her bachelor's degree in Biological Technology at the HCM City International University under the Việt Nam National University of HCM City, Linh received a scholarship to study abroad in the Biomedical Materials Master's and Ph.D. programme at Ajou University in South Korea.

Breaking gender stereotypes

During her first year as a research scholar in South Korea, Linh recounted how people tended to underestimate the psychological and physical strength of women, which created certain limitations in scientific research and a lack of confidence in her abilities.

"In the beginning, I was only allowed to assist in the laboratory and write general summaries. My new research ideas weren't trusted by the professors, and I didn't have the independence to conduct my own research. Therefore, the technical aspects were often assigned to men," she shared.

This was the time when Linh felt the most exhausted, as her tasks primarily involved reading and trying to understand, but she didn't know where to start or what to do differently.

Linh once thought that if she continued to doubt or make assumptions, she wouldn't have any bright ideas. So, she picked herself up and embarked on a journey to recharge her energy.

From then on, Linh shifted her research focus to the development of advanced materials for treatment and diagnosis, such as smart hydrogels and surface activation technologies for biomedical materials.

One of Linh's outstanding research achievements was the surface activation of graft materials, which was one of the two international exclusive patents granted by the South Korean Government in 2019. This innovation created a multifunctional material that was compatible with blood and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Notably, this project combined the blood anticoagulant activity of heparin with the vasodilation and anti-inflammatory properties of nitric oxide to address issues related to blood clotting and inflammation after grafting, which were common in medical devices in contact with blood.

Linh has since become the principal investigator and has participated in four domestic scientific projects. She is the author of 15 international scientific publications, holds two international patents for biomedical materials, and has received awards for presentations and outstanding scientific papers from the Korean Society for Biomaterials.

Assoc. Prof. Nguyễn Đại Hải, Deputy Director of the Institute of Chemistry said: "The research not only brings significant benefits to healthcare treatment and diagnosis but also opens up possibilities for applications in various types of materials. In addition, Linh's scientific publications have contributed to advancing the quality and diversity of research in biomedical materials at the institute."

Returning to Vietnam after five years of research abroad, Linh has been working at the Institute of Chemistry under a programme to attract young scientists.

“I believe that my homeland is a promising place for research in biomedical materials. I have had the opportunity to affirm the value and responsibility of creating domestic products to serve healthcare," she said proudly.

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