CSULB Senior Tuyen Ngoc Tran Receives Howell-CSUPERB Research Scholar Award

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Among Recipients of 2012 Howell-CSUPERB Research Scholar Award

Tuyen Ngoc Tran

For his proposal to study how secondhand smoke exposure may predispose women to heart disease, Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) chemistry/biochemistry senior Tuyen Ngoc Tran has received a $3,000 scholarship as one of this year’s recipients of the Howell-CSUPERB Research Scholar Award.

CSUPERB (CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology) has partnered with the Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research to fund promising undergraduate student research projects in topics related to women’s health.  The Howell Foundation and CSUPERB recognize that research experience is critical to engaging, retaining and graduating students interested in careers in women’s health.

CSUPERB received 32 applications from students at 15 different CSU campuses for the Howell awards, but only 11 students from seven of the universities were selected for the $3,000 scholarships.  The Howell-CSUPERB Scholars show great professional promise academically and in research programs.  Each scholar will be conducting faculty mentored research projects during 2012.

“I was so happy to share the good news with my mother (when I found out I had been selected for the award),” said Tran, who expects to complete his bachelor’s degree in fall 2012.  “It is my aspiration to become a researcher and medical practitioner in the field of pathology.  Fortunately, I have the opportunity to conduct research in Dr. (Vasanthy) Narayanaswami’s laboratory, which is my first step towards this goal.  Via this project I am gaining the research experience necessary to be competitive for graduate school.”

Tran explained that the objective of his project is to study the effect of in vitro oxidative modification of apolipoprotein E (apoE).  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death in the United States with more deaths due to cardiovascular reasons than all forms of cancer combined.  In fact, a recent statistical report from the American Heart Association showed that 42 million women are living with different types of CVD.

“The implication of our research is that sustained long-term exposure to secondhand smoke can potentially lead to a proatherogenic profile,” Professor Narayanaswami said.  “Secondhand smokers are exposed to the same gaseous phase components that smokers inhale directly; thus, people exposed to secondhand smoke may be predisposed to develop heart disease.

“The Howell-CSUPERB award to Tuyen is very timely.  It will help Tuyen tremendously in focusing on our research efforts to obtain insights into structure-function relationships of apoE, one of the major cholesterol transport protein in plasma,” she continued.  “Tuyen Tran put together a very competitive application package for this award.  He has an impressive list of honors and awards, maintains a very high grade point average, and his research is in a very advanced stage with a high likelihood of getting published in scientific journals of biomedical relevance.  This award is a testimony to his hard work.”

Tran expressed special thanks to Professor Narayanaswami for her enthusiasm in the pursuit of research and her encouragement of students to pursue real-world research with her in cardiovascular disease.

“Dr. Narayanaswami…has dramatically increased my engagement in both my academic studies and undergraduate research,” he noted.  “She has not only taught me how to conduct research independently, but she also helped to hone my leadership skills.  These skills and experiences will be extremely helpful for me as a future researcher.”

The Howell-CSUPERB scholarship award will allow Tran, who works part-time to help his family, to cut back on his hours, concentrate on his research and publish his findings.  The funds, he said, will support his academic needs such as textbooks, tuition and fees.  He will also use the award to support his research project, including supplies and travel to conferences such as the American Heart Association’s Council on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology Conference to be held in Chicago in April.

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