Dr. Tung Nguyen

Dr. Tung Nguyen, PIVOT's Chair, is the Stephen J. McPhee, MD Endowed Chair in General Internal Medicine and Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He is a practicing general internist with a large panel of Asian American patients and teaches students and medical residents about medicine, health disparities, and community-based participatory research.

Dr. Nguyen's commitment to improving the health of Asian Americans is evident in the various leadership positions he holds with Asian American Research Center on Health, UCSF Multi-Ethnic Health Equity Center, and UCSF Dean’s Diversity Leader.

Dr. Nguyen and his colleagues made news earlier this year when they collectively resigned from the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in protest of the Trump administration's policies that adversely affect Asian Americans.

Dr. Nguyen received his B.A. in Philosophy from Harvard College and his M.D. from Stanford University School of Medicine.  He completed his internship and residency at UCSF.

How PIVOT came to be and why...
Among AAPIs, Vietnamese Americans were thought to be the most conservative group, which did not match with what I saw as a Commissioner on President Obama’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs. The 2017 Presidential election was a turning point, as many Vietnamese Americans committed to human and civil rights saw the clear divide between the two candidates. A few of us helped Hillary Clinton to increase her media presence in our community. Through that work, we realized that progressive Vietnamese American voices were under-represented in both Vietnamese and mainstream society, but that those voices resonated with many Vietnamese Americans. The election of Donald Trump was an impetus for us to protect the rights of our people and others. In December and January, we had meetings with Vietnamese Americans in Virginia and California. We agreed to build a national progressive Vietnamese American network. In two months, we already have nearly one hundred active members in Arizona, California,  the District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. 

Goals for PIVOT...
I firmly believe that the best way to accomplish anything great is to put passionate and accomplished people together and help them do the right things. I see myself as a facilitator so where PIVOT will go depends on its members. We all share the common mission, which is to engage and empower Vietnamese Americans for a just and diverse America.

Why am I helping to build PIVOT...
As a refugee, I know very well that I could not have survived or thrived without some luck and the help of others, many of whom were not Vietnamese. I became a doctor and public health researcher partly because I wanted to pay back what I owed, but there’s only so much I can do as one person. The power to make change for the better comes from being a part of the greater whole—as part of the Vietnamese American community, as part of the Asian American movement, and as part of all minority groups in our struggle for justice. We all have basic rights-- to have health, education, job, respect, a voice, and the ability to live a life we choose. And our responsibility is to make sure everyone else has those rights too. 

Fun Facts

  • Although he claims to have had no skills, Dr. Nguyen played American football from elementary school through high school. 
  • He has read all of Kim Dung (Jin Yong) martial arts novels (chuyện chưởng), and his favorite is Tiếu Ngạo Giang Hồ (Smiling, Proud Wanderer).
  • Dr. Nguyen's children often wish he would stop playing Vietnamese and 60s-80s music badly on his keyboard. He is not allowed to sing.