- Innovation Award in 2018 at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Dr. Nguyen, originally from Vietnam, completed his undergraduate studies at Vietnam National University before pursuing his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). During his time at KAIST, Dr. Nguyen's research primarily focused on DNA replication, recombination, and repair. After obtaining his Ph.D., he joined Seoul National University as a postdoctoral researcher, where he made significant contributions to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of the human Microprocessor, a key factor in microRNA biogenesis.
Dr. Nguyen then began his role as an Assistant Professor in the Division of Life Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). His lab currently seeks to unravel the molecular mechanisms of RNA-interacting proteins, utilizing both biochemistry and bioinformatics approaches to advance the field.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs approximately 22 nucleotides long. They do not synthesize proteins; instead, they control protein production by silencing gene expression. miRNAs are found in various organisms, and in humans, many miRNAs are associated with numerous diseases, including cancers and neurodegenerative diseases. In miRNA biogenesis, each miRNA sequence is derived from primary miRNAs (pri-miRNAs) and precursor miRNAs (pre-miRNAs). These pri-miRNAs and pre-miRNAs display significant diversity in their primary sequences and secondary structures, which influences miRNA expression.
Dr. Nguyen's lab focuses on comprehensively understanding how the modulated and structured elements of pri-miRNAs and pre-miRNAs are recognized and interact with multiple RNA-interacting proteins, enzymes, and small chemical molecules. This research employs multidisciplinary approaches, including biochemistry and bioinformatics techniques. The knowledge gained from his lab's work will provide a fundamental understanding of miRNA-related human diseases and offer guidelines for designing artificial pri-miRNAs and pre-miRNAs for use in gene-silencing technology.