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Member Research and Reports

Vanderbilt: Epidemiologists Receive Vietnam’s Top Honor for Foreign Scientists

The Vietnamese Ministry of Health has awarded two Vanderbilt epidemiologists the Memorabilia Medal “For the People’s Health” in appreciation for their contributions in helping the nation establish a population-based research program for cancer, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.

The medal is the highest honor that the Vietnam government bestows upon foreign scientists who have made significant contributions in public health. Past recipients have included representatives of the World Health Organization and other international health experts.

Dr. Xiao Ou Shu, associate director for Global Health and co-leader of the Cancer Epidemiology Research Program at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, and Dr. Wei Zheng, director of the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center and Anne Potter Wilson Chair in Medicine, received the medals in July.

Dr. Shu led a team of Vanderbilt researchers on a program to build research capacity in Vietnam that is supported primarily by a grant from the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Center for Global Health. This grant is part of NCI initiative to create and support Regional Centers of Research Excellence for non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries or regions.

“We know that disease has no borders,” Dr. Shu said. “This research benefits America also because what we learn in another country can be transferred back to the U.S. populations, particularly for some lifestyle habits, such as diet and exercise, and genetic factors that are difficult to study in this country due to their low prevalence.”

Dr. Zheng said he welcomed the opportunity to help make a difference in Vietnam. “They need this kind of help and we have the capacity to help them,” he said.

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