Mr. Tạ Văn Nhân, a Bridge Engineering major, successfully completed his thesis defense on March 11th, 2021. Mr. Nhân was the first student of the Master of Data Science program at VNU University of Science (VNU – HUS) to perform a thesis defense for his graduation.
Mr. Tạ Văn Nhân being the first student of this Master program to graduate is one of many notable milestones in this event. An interdisciplinary board is formed for this special occasion, consisting of professional members from various fields of science: Math, Information Technology, and Biology. They highly commended the research outcome of all participating students.
Mr. Nhân first graduated from Bridge Engineering program at the University of Transport and Communications, but his passion for scientific research brought him to the field of Data Science, which was a relatively new field then. After years of dedication, he successfully completed his thesis defense, titled: “The appliance of sequence alignment method for gene variant prediction problems”, under the guidance of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyễn Thị Hồng Minh, a lecturer of the Faculty of Mathematics, Mechanics, and Informatics at VNU – HUS.
By choosing a topic combining Informatics and Biology for his thesis, Mr. Tạ Văn Nhân hopes to study and apply knowledge from Mathematics, Statistics, and Informatics into solving complex biology problems, harnessing the vast amount of data available for potential application in practice.
According to Mr. Nhân, modern technology was making it easier and faster to perform DNA sequencing. However, this inflated the amount of data collected by an immense amount, which required a more efficient and accurate system to process and analyze the data. In his study, Mr. Nhân focused on sequence alignment problems with an aim to search for their gene variants when paired with housekeeping genes, with many research findings were procured. He still found that there were still room for improvement in the speed, accuracy, and the application range of sequencing alignment.
In the thesis, Mr. Nhân developed his enhanced sequencing alignment method, as well as the ability to apply algorithms on mainstream computing systems with concurrency techniques based on Burrows-Wheeler transform and Smith-Waterman algorithm. This also added a wider application range in gene variants research compared to previous studies, providing a basis to calculate the influence of gene variants on the function of protein. One of the most notable outcomes was his discovery of 7362 variants of 5059 genes possessing the capability to alter the function of proteins, some of which are similar to genetic mutations listed in existing studies.
According to the judging committee, this method had a high degree of reliability and speed, and could be widely applied on different databases. There were still limitations in the processing time and knowledge required, but this was a significant achievement when predicting genetic mutations was still a challenge to researchers. Mr. Tạ Văn Nhân received great support from members of the judging committee to continue his research for his Doctorate.
In the interview after the thesis defense, Mr. Nhân said: “I found myself studying for this Master degree by chance. At first I had an intention of pursuing a major that could help me with my current occupation as well as a chance to hone my Mathematical skill. I looked for many universities and stumbled across an enrollment notice from the VNU - HUS. Realizing the suitability and the potential of the major, I enrolled for the Master program at this institution.
Currently, Mr. Nhân is working for a company focusing on Bioinformatics research and services. More students are expected to graduate from the Data Science graduate program of the VNU - HUS and become experts in this new scientific field, following Mr. Nhân’s footsteps.
“With the new development of New Generation Sequencing (NGS), a fast, accurate, and reliable sequence analysis program has become more necessary in the process of determining genetic mutations that can potentially lead to diseases. Sequence alignment plays an important role in determining where genes and proteins have crucial functions, thus predicting the impact of mutations in correlation with other biological components on the pathogenic phenotype. Mutation prediction is a common problem in genetic diagnostics analysis, and an important premise for future experimental and clinical studies. The scientific significance and urgency of the thesis is undoubtedly immeasurable in our country”. - Assoc.Prof.Dr. Trịnh Hồng Thái, Faculty of Biology, VNU - HUS, who served as one of the members of the judging committee.
“I fortunately made a right decision when I chose to study my Master of Data Science at VNU - HUS because of the formal curriculum that resembles those of famous universities in the world. My lecturers were passionate and indifferent to all of their students. Most importantly, the tuition fee of the program is very affordable” - Mr. Tạ Văn Nhân expressed.