SOMETHING I’M REALLY PROUD OF: Surgery - the ability to change someone’s anatomy, to change their physiology, and the trajectory of their life. PERSON THAT CATCHES MY ATTENTION: Kindness and people who see others who are often invisible. PEOPLE OFTEN DESCRIBE ME AS: Surprising.
Leading with a medical heart and engineering mind
EXISTING BEYOND THE STATISTICS. When Dr. Tran Tu Huynh founded OpticSurg Inc., a health tech startup whose mission is to give healthcare professionals the tools they need to do their jobs better, minimize complications, and save lives, she was one part following in her parents footsteps, and one part pursuing the classic American dream. “I was born and raised in Vietnam and knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was eight years old, but decided to pursue biomedical engineering first because both of my parents are engineers and I also wanted to see innovations from bench to bedside. But I too fell in love with engineering and the idea that I might be able to make a more direct impact if I also went to medical school.”
“I remember going to bed and waking up thinking about leveraging innovations to optimize healthcare for over a year while conducting extensive research to learn that people rarely were approaching the solutions with the distinct expertise of an Engineer along with having a deep understanding of the pain points by having lived through them.” Soon after, she and her team discovered that they could improve patient care delivery by optimizing technologies such as mixed reality and artificial intelligence to help redesign the bedside and operating room experiences.
One of the things Dr. Huynh doesn’t talk about as often, but is often central to her drive is her faith. “I was raised Buddhist and Catholic. So my relationship with God is a key part of my larger community, helping me to draw strength, wisdom and serenity. It allows me to come from a place of always wanting to pay it forward, and wanting to build systems that do the same.”
IN HEALTHCARE, IT TRULY TAKES A VILLAGE. When asked how being LGBTQ has also shaped her experiences in this multifaceted field of expertise, Dr. Huynh is contemplative. “I want to share some statistics that I think can shed some appropriate light on this subject. About 30% or so of physicians are women; about 20% of those are surgeons. About 12% percent of any physicians are Asian, about 5% of physicians are Vietnamese. And then from there, I don’t have any reliable statistics for LGBTQ physicians and surgeons. So you can appreciate my pause.”
But in fact it does have a big influence as she explains. “You know the saying ‘it takes a village?’ In that way I have several communities to rely on, including the LGBTQ community. My experience has been very much shaped by being a minority within a minority within a minority and having to overcome and persevere outside of my communities.”
“Again, it really does take a village. People shouldn’t feel like they’re alone. There are people who are way smarter than you and those are the people you want in your community, in your circles. Certainly even in your company. Not everyone is going to be there for the entirety of the time, but every person can bring value as a short-term or long-term influencer into the bigger mission and vision of the work.”
Beyond her work leading OpticSurg Inc., Dr. Huynh is still a passionate practicing breast cancer surgeon and Women’s Health advocate because she is always working to pay it forward to others. A creative trailblazer pushing the boundaries of healthcare technology, she knows she’s found her true calling. “I’m many different things to many different people, but at the end of the day, I’m just a human trying to make other human’s lives better.”