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Professor Tran Phuoc Duong - People’s Teacher was born in Dong Thap province on 30/4/1940. In 1966, he graduated from Sai Gon University of Science, Vietnam with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and achieved a doctor’s degree from Michigan State University, United States in 1972. After direct voting election, Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong served as the Rector of Can Tho University for two terms: 1989-1993 and 1993-1997.

During years of this period 1989-1997, Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong played an extremely important role in the development of Can Tho University by creating and conducting many activities, eg. establish the collaboration with national and international institutions, encourage and support the improvement of staff’s professional qualifications, invest the infrastructure and facilities, strengthen and enhance the training quality, promote the scientific research and technology transfer, etc… As the results of international collaborative expansion, there were many programs and projects that set up the foundation for the development of Can Tho University today. For example, Can Tho University was sponsored by MHO (a Dutch governmental program) and VLIR (a Belgian governmental program), with about 19 million USD from each. Can Tho University also received the sponsorship with about 23 million USD from Japanese government’s program on Equipment and Facilities for the College of Agriculture (Source: CTU).

Closing event of MHO7 project (1996-2004). Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong with members of MHO7: Prof. Tek An Lie, Prof. Rommert van den Bos, Prof. Rob Nout, Mr. Bert Wennekes, Prof. Nguyen Van Uyen, along with lecturers of the Institute and Master students of the first batch in Biotechnology.

 

Conference of 20-years cooperation between Vrije Unviersiteit Brussel (VUB) - Can Tho University (CTU) and the first IPMB Alumni Meeting. Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong with Prof. Edilbert Van Driessche, Prof. Sonia Beeckmans, Prof. Ha Thanh Toan and members of VLIR-OUS program (2016) (Source: Sonia Beeckmans, 2016)

The success in the 1989-1997 period has built the solid foundation for the development of Can Tho University until now. The enthusiasm for “people cultivation” and the leading role of Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong has left a significant imprint on the following generation. He is an outstanding role model and a great pride to staff and students of Can Tho University.

Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong reported a “Floating yeast” study in the scientific research conference in 1979

Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong was the founder of Biotechnology Research and Development Institute. The institute began with “a group of microbiological researchers” which belonged to Plant Department, College of Science, Can Tho University, located at campus III from 1973 to 1975 and the Microbiological Laboratory between 1975 and 1976. This group gradually developed as Group of Microbiology - Department of Microbiology - Tropical Biology-Nitrogen Research Center since 1981, Biological Nitrogen Fixation Research Center since 1985, Biotechnology Research and Development Center since 1991, and Biotechnology Research and Development Institute since 1995 until now. In the period of holding the Rector position (1989-1997), Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong was also the Director of the Institute, considering the scientific research and technology transfer as priorities. In 1976, in Microbiology Laboratory, staff did make by themselves laboratory equipment such as the safety cabinet, fermenting tanks, etc.…employed for the purpose of successfully manufacturing “floating yeast”, also called as a starter powder used in bread bakery; research and technology transfer of making grain spawns of paddy straw and wood ear mushrooms; production of biological fertilizers, Vidana and ViDapho by using rhizobium bacteria; synthesis of the precursor of Thyroxin from soy beans; construction of the protocol of producing Thyromin weight gaining agent; hydrolyzation of spoiling fish sauce proteins from fish to reduce the unfavorable smell of fish sauce; establishment of microflora collections including yeasts, molds and bacteria in wine, soya sauce and fish sauce for other researches; study of endophyte in nitrogen fixation and phostphate solubilizing fertilizer; improvement of methods for detecting pathogenic microbes by molecular biotechnology; and especially, from the Institute, Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong successfully developed the commercial Thyromin in order to sell with a tremendous amount to livestock farms in Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai and Song Be, which financed the Institute and contributed to CTU budget. The CTU Rector’s board used the source of such money as the “rice support” 17kg/month/person to every staff of the university from 1989 to 1997. This was the precondition for the expense “Extra Income” of the university today. (Source: Trinh Ngoc Hoa).

Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong reported on MHO7 program in the meeting/gallery room of the Institute in 2004 (Source: Rommert van den Bos, 2004)

Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong discussed about the installation of equipment in laboratory at BiRDI with Belgian scientists of VLIR-UOS project 2000 (Source: Sonia Beekman, 2000)

Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong established many international projects for the Institute, eg. Program “The survival of (Brady) Rhizobium bacteria in Mekong Delta” collaborated with Laboratoire de Recherches sur les Symbiotes des Racines - INRA Montpellier và Biological Nitrogen Research Center - Can Tho University 1983-1986; the VH24 Program of Wageningen University - the Netherlands on “Studying nitrogen fixation process” since 1986; the EC (European Community) Program sponsored studies about plant grown on land since 1990; the collaborations between Wageningen University (the Netherlands), Institute National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) Montpellier (France) and Biotechnology Research & Development Center; the MHO7 Program (1996-2004) on Biotechnological education and transfer; the VLIR-OUS (1998-2008) Program on Biotechnological education and transfer. These programs served as the strong foundation of human resource training and equipment enhancement for the Institute.

Technology transfer with Malaysia

 

The first graduated students of Master of Biotech program

Doctoral training. Dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Truc (yellow “ao dai” dress) 2011, supervised by Prof. Cao Ngoc Diep

Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong greatly contributed to the training activity of the University and the Institute. The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) allowed CTU to open the Master program in Biotechnology since 1997. Before that, starting in 1992, CTU was allowed by the MOET to train the doctoral level. The first two PhD candidates trained by CTU were Dr. Nguyen Huu Hiep and Dr. Cao Ngoc Diep. Both of them had their thesis defense presentations on February 7, 1994. Dr. Hiep and Dr. Diep were enrolled in Vietnam and did a part of their theses in the Netherlands (sandwich course). At the same time and after that, many PhD candidates of Institute were trained either for fulltime course or sandwich course, as Dr. Nguyen Van Ba, Dr. Ha Thanh Toan, Dr. Ngo Thi Phuong Dung, Dr. Nguyen Van Thanh, Dr. Tran Nhan Dung, Dr. Duong Thi Huong Giang, Dr. Huynh Ngoc Thanh Tam, Dr. Nguyen Thi Pha, Dr. Bui Thi Minh Dieu, Dr. Tran Thi Xuan Mai, Dr. Vo Van Song Toan, Dr. Do Tan Khang, Dr. Nguyen Pham Anh Thi, Dr. Huynh Xuan Phong, Dr. Trần Thị Giang, etc… This development of human resources was the strong foundation for the current MSc. and PhD. training programs in Vietnam and abroad.

Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong and Biotechnology team attended the 50th Anniversary of CTU: In front of the old building of BiRDI (31/3/1966 - 31/3/2016) (Source: Nguyen Hoang Nghia, 2016)

 

Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong and Biotechnology team attended the 50th Anniversary of CTU: In front of the CTU’s operator building (31/3/1966 - 31/3/2016) (Source: Nguyen Hoang Nghia, 2016)

 

Tram Chim’s red-headed crane

 

Day May 18-Paris (Source: Tran Phuoc Duong)

 

Lotus in Ha Noi (left); Lotus in Can Tho (right) (Source: Tran Phuoc Duong)

Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong was a great cultural artist. He issued the regulations on office attire (1997), the art of communication by phone, etc. Until now, there are still many anecdotes about Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong on a beloved teacher of discipline, love and responsibility. The stories about Prof. Duong such as scold and complain staff in order to raise them up and to help them developed instead of bringing them down, will surely stay forever in their mind with gratitude for him! "Whenever talking about Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong, everyone has a story about him with pride, love and respect! (FB Diem Huynh)". Professor had a nice photo collection of many landscapes and cultural works in many parts of Vietnam and worldwide, such as: Windmill-The Netherlands, Tulip-garden-The Netherlands, Eiffel Tower-Paris, Day May 18-Paris, My Son Champa Holly Land, The Generations, Tram Chim’s red-headed crane, Country side, Hà Nội Lotus etc… These photos that effectively offer many cultural lessons and humanistic messages were exhibited many times at CTU, BiRDI, Can Tho City to convey and promote the tradition, culture and aesthetics to teachers, workers, students of the University and people in a region.

After a period of serious illness, despite being treated wholeheartedly by doctors and family, Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong - People’s Teacher peacefully passed away at 9.40 am on 23/8/2020 in Da Lat city, at the age of eighty. Professor's funeral was held at his house - No. 20, An Son Hill Villas, Ward 4, Da Lat City, Lam Dong Province. Can Tho University also organized a venue with a remembrance ceremony at Guest House 1, Zone I - Can Tho University, 30/4 street, Hung Loi ward, Ninh Kieu district, Can Tho city. So teachers, staff, friends, colleagues, alumni and students could come to light incense at Prof. Duong’s altar in memory of him.

The passing of Professor has left infinite mourning for his family, relatives, friends, colleagues and generations of students of the University.

All members of Biotechnology Research and Development Institute sincerely offer our condolences to Professor’s family and relatives. We are proud of being students and staff of Professor and we remember forever the great merit of Prof. Tran Phuoc Duong - People’s Teacher, the founder of our Biotechnology Research and Development Institute.

 

Can Tho, August 30th, 2020
Compilation by Biotechnology Research and Development Institute
Translation by Le Thanh Quang, Tu Le Ngoc Thao, Do Tan Khang, Tran Nhan Dung and Ngo Thi Phuong Dung

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