Tan N. Truong, PhD

I’M FROM: Born in Vietnam and fled the country on a boat in 1980 when I was 3 years old.  Spent a year in a refugee camp in Thailand before ending up in sunny San Diego, California.
BEFORE VS: I received my BA in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley in 1999.  I followed that up with an OD degree from UCB School of Optometry in 2004 and a MPH from UCB School of Public Health in 2007.  I worked in the R&D department developing new contact lens products for CooperVision for 2 years before joining UCB Vision Science PhD program in 2010.
WHY I’M HERE: Collectively, my education, previous work, and research experience have allowed me to pursue an optometric career that requires the knowledge and skills of both a clinician and a research scientist. I find that my research interests are all linked together by a common theme; the field of immunology, the body’s defense system against opportunistic infection and cancer. I was drawn to the VS program because I wanted to continue to pursue this line of research.  The program provided the opportunity to work with renowned researchers in the field of ocular immunology.
MY RESEARCH: I am currently conducting research in the lab of Professor Lu Chen, an expert on corneal lympangiogenesis (LG), a field of rapid progression during the past few years. Though lymphatic vessels are not easily visible, recent identification of several specific markers of the lymphatic endothelial cells have allowed for visualization and exploration into the active growth of lymphatic vessels during pathological processes.  The transparent and avascular cornea serves as an ideal tissue to study the development of lymph and blood vessels. The in-vivo lymphatic maturation experiments that I’ve been conducting since joining Dr. Chen’s lab has already provided the first evidence showing that lymphatic valves are formed in the cornea during suture-induced inflammation via the up-regulation of integrin-alpha 9.  Having a better understanding of the basic mechanisms underlying the stages of lymphatic vessel development and maturation may help in discovering therapeutic targets for a wide array of lymphatic-related disorders occurring inside and outside the eye, such as inflammatory and immune diseases, transplant rejection, cancer metasis, AIDS, and lymphedema.
MY DREAM: Ultimately, I want to be an independent researcher at an academic health center conducting translational patient-based vision research with an emphasis on ocular immunology. In addition, I’d love to have a plot of land in a banana republic, learn subsistence farming farm, and be one with the land.
MY HOBBIES: When not working or studying, I try to make time to spend with the family.