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Thread: A Vietnamese Immigrant Became Vice Dean of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Chi Van Dang, M.D., Ph.D

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    Default A Vietnamese Immigrant Became Vice Dean of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Chi Van Dang, M.D., Ph.D

    A Vietnamese Immigrant Became Vice Dean of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Chi Van Dang, M.D., Ph.D

    (Vice Dean of Research, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
    Baltimore, Maryland)

    It doesnt matter to me what my children decide to do with their lives, as long as they serve the community. -
    Dr. Dang

    Its 4:30 p.m. on a cold and stormy Thursday afternoon in the Baltimore Washington, DC area. Having received an e-mail from me only days earlier, Dr. Chi Van Dang graciously agreed to squeeze a last minute phone interview into his hectic schedule. Maria? he asked after picking up the phone. For some reason, I expected to encounter a hint of a Vietnamese accent, but found none.

    As he patiently answered my questions, he spoke with the clm, steady and confident voice of a knowledgeable physician. But Dr. Dang who signs his e-mails as simply Chi is no ordinary doctor. He is a medical oncologist to dozens of cancer patients, a professor to hundreds of medical students; mentor to scores of students, fellows, and junior faculty; and Vice Dean of Research at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. That is only the short list of his duties and accomplishments. Below is a profile of a good man responding to a strong calling to be a healer and whose contributions to the medical community have reverberated throughout the world.

    Uprooted beginnings
    Chi Van Dang, age 56, was born in Saigon as one of 10 children. His father, the late Dr. Dang Van Chieu, was Viet Nams first neurosurgeon and the Dean of the University of Saigon School of Medicine. When he was twelve years old in 1967, Dr. Dangs parents sent him and his brother, Chuc, to live with an American sponsoring family in Flint, Michigan. The brothers were reunited with their family in 1975, when the entire family immigrated to the U.S. after the end of the war. Since then, he has graduated from prestigious universities with the highest of honors, including the University of Michigan for his undergraduate degree, Georgetown University for his doctoral degree in chemistry, and Johns Hopkins University for his medical degree. It was at Johns Hopkins where Dr. Dang as a young medical intern, met the love of his life, Mary. They married a few years after that.

    Through the years, Chi Van Dang has risen through the ranks at Johns Hopkins from being an assistant professor to landing tenure as professor of medicine, oncology, pathology, and cell biology. He is the first recipient of the John Hopkins Family Professorship of Oncology Research. In addition, Dr. Dang is the Vice Dean of Research at John Hopkins School of Medicine. As member of the top leadership at an internationally-recognized university, Chi Van Dang is the highest ranking physician of Vietnamese descent in academic medicine worldwide. In May 2005, he received the Golden Torch Award at the Vietnamese American National Gala (VANG), which honored the progress and significant achievements made by Vietnamese Americans.

    Along with his leadership roles, Dr. Dang serves as mentor to numerous graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty who work in his research lab in hematology and oncology. In our conversation, he shared the two key ingredients to success that he teaches all his students and advisees. You must have passion, he emphasized. You must enjoy what you are doing and feel that it is your calling. The second crucial factor is focus. Focus is extremely important as we are all limited by time, an individuals focus will help him find the answer to his question or problem.

    Q & A with Dr. Dang

    BN: At 12 years old, your parents sent you and your brother to the US to live with an American foster family. What do you remember as your first thoughts and feelings about this new arrangement and new culture?
    CVD: As a young boy, the whole adventure was a whirlwind of new and good experiences. In fact, we developed neighborhood friendships that last to the present. The neighbors, particularly the Landaals in Flint, Michigan, have become our very dearest friends. Tom and Steve Landaal introduced us (my brother Chuc and me) to American culture. The most remarkable thing about landing at the Detroit and Flint airport in late March then was the first sight of my breath against the cold air.

    BN: What was it like to see your family again in 1975 when they all immigrated to the US?
    CVD: It was a blessing to see the entire family making it out of Viet Nam, enduring the refugee camps, and then settling in California.

    BN: When was the last time you visited Viet Nam?
    CVD: My brother and I were fortunate to return to Viet Nam in 1969 for about a month during the summer that the US landed a man on the moon. I haven't been back since.

    BN: In your free time, you said you like to attend your children's soccer and lacrosse games and also cook. What is your favorite dish to cook and eat?
    CVD: My wife, Mary, who is a native Baltimorean, is a very good cook when it comes to Vietnamese food. I would serve as the sous-Chef. She makes the best pho as well as other dishes using lemon grass.

    BN: If you weren't a healer/oncologist/professor/vice dean/medical superstar at Johns Hopkins, what would you be doing?
    CVD: Deep in the crevices of my mind, I dream of the serenity and bucolic existence as a country doctor.

    BN: What do you want most to be remembered for?
    CVD: Like my father, I wish to be remembered first and foremost as a teacher and compassionate healer.

    BN: Okay, some free medical advice please. What is the one thing that people can start doing today to improve their long-term health?
    CVD: Exercise! Not only the advice is free, but exercise can also be free.

    Last edited by bng-la; 07-18-2011 at 03:35 PM.

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