Tran Viet Ha, MD, MSc, is the in-country director of UNC Vietnam and an assistant professor in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. She’s also coordinator for the Institute’s Clinical Research Site (CRS) in Hanoi. The CRS started as a site for HIV prevention studies but has more recently been funded as a HIV treatment site with the AIDS Clinical Trials Group. Dr. Vivian Go has worked closely with Ha for nearly 20 years and says she’s come to believe that there is nothing Ha cannot do. “Ha is bright, passionate, and highly committed to her work,” said Go. “One defining trait is her determination—she loves challenges and tackles them with unparalleled ferocity.” Susan Pedersen, the Institute’s Clinical Trials Unit Coordinator, agrees. “The implementation and management of NIH/DAIDS funded studies is not easy, and Ha continues to meet these challenges with tenacity and compassion. She’s an absolute delight to work with and the entire CTU is very lucky to have her on the team.”
1.) How did you come to support research in infectious diseases?
I joined research in infectious diseases in 2005. During this time, the HIV epidemic in Vietnam had reached its peak among injecting drug users and the sex worker population. Many international organizations came to Vietnam to help confront the HIV epidemic. I was looking for a job suitable for my background as a medical physician, and my interest in doing research with an international organization. I was introduced to Dr. Vivian F. Go’s project, which provided HIV prevention intervention to injecting drug users in Northern Vietnam.
2.) What was your pathway?
I graduated from Hanoi Medical University in 1997 as a general physician. I continued studying as a hospital resident until 2001. From 2002-2004, I worked as an underwriter for a Medical Insurance Company. I met Dr. Go in 2005, and worked for her HIV prevention intervention projects in Northern Vietnam under the umbrella of Johns Hopkins University from 2005-2013. Since 2014, I’ve worked with the UNC Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases, implementing clinical trials for the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) and the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG).
3.) Where are you from?
I was born in Hanoi, Vietnam. I studied to be a medical doctor at Hanoi Medical University. Since that time, I’ve continued to work in Hanoi.
4.) What do you find most rewarding about your work?
It is challenging every day. I gain a lot of knowledge about international regulations and procedures, working with HPTN and ACTG-funded studies.
5.) What are some of the new developments that you’re excited about?
We are expanding to tuberculosis (TB) prevention and treatment, and mental health intervention studies. TB is a difficult area to work with in, and mental health is a confusing field. I am excited about new challenges.
6.) Is there a particular achievement that has been most gratifying to you?
I am the first author of four research papers that were successfully published in international journals:
- Association between drug use and ART use among people living with HIV who inject drugs in Vietnam, Ukraine and Indonesia: results from HPTN 074
- Awareness of HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) among men who have sex with men in Hanoi
- Stigma experienced by people living with HIV who are on methadone maintenance treatment and have symptoms of common mental disorders in Hanoi, Vietnam: a qualitative study
- Adaptation of a problem-solving program (Friendship Bench) to treat common mental disorders among people living with HIV and AIDS and on methadone maintenance treatment in Vietnam: formative study
7.) What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Do what you like to do!
8.) What hobbies do you enjoy?
I enjoy doing yoga and cooking. It makes me mentally relax.
9.) Do you have a favorite quote or life motto?
“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” – Benjamin Franklin
10.) What was the last book you read?
Blood Moon, a book about wars in Vietnam from 1800 to 1975.
The Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases (IGHID) attracts people who are driven to make big change. From principal investigators and grant managers to regulatory specialists and study coordinators, everyone has an important role to play in what we do. We are pleased to highlight colleagues who proudly serve IGHID.