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2022 Predoctoral Researchers


Thoa Truong

Thoa Truong

University of Science, Vietnam

A self-described “reader” as a child, Thoa Truong would read stories about famous scientists like Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, and Marie Curie. But one book, One Hundred Thousand Whys, stands out most in her memory. This book was one in a series of popular children’s books that explored topics like math, physics, chemistry, zoology, biology, and geology, satisfying Thoa’s need to know how things around her worked.

In 2013, Truong moved from the small coastal Vietnamese village in the Khanh Hoa Province where she grew up to the large metro of Ho Chi Minh City to attend the University of Science where, in 2017, she earned a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology. 

Her undergraduate research was focused on screening natural compounds that had the potential for easing Parkinson-like symptoms in the fruit fly, Drosophila. In a first-author paper in Parkinson’s Disease, Truong demonstrated that extracts from purslane, a green leafy vegetable that is sometimes considered a weed, effectively rescued PD-like phenotypes. She showed that purslane extracts improved locomotor ability in the Drosophila larval stage and decelerated disease progression in the adult stage. Her research lays a foundation for further study of purslane as a potential treatment for Parkinson’s Disease.

In follow-up studies, Truong wanted to visualize the phenotypes of the neuromuscular junction, where the neuron connects to the muscle. While she was unsuccessful in dissecting and observing the neuromuscular junction, she was able to dissect, observe and gain valuable information on another tissue during the experiments. She also realized what many other scientists discover — that sometimes while focusing on resolving one question, you find answers for another.