Thuy Ngo, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor of Molecular and Medical Genetics, School of Medicine
  • Member, CEDAR, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, School of Medicine
  • Program in Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, School of Medicine


Dr. Thuy Ngo is interested in taking interdisciplinary approaches to develop novel methods for identifying biomarkers of cancer, detecting and elucidating developmental pathway of cancer and other medical diseases and conditions. The clinical and biological systems of interest include circulating cell-free DNA, RNA, extracellular vesicles, microbiome, tumor cells, tumor associated cells and tumor microenvironment. Her main tools are quantitative imaging, next generation sequencing, bioinformatics and molecular and cellular biology.

Ngo received her Ph.D. in biophysics and computational biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2014 under the guidance of Dr. Taekjip Ha and her postdoc with Dr. Stephen Quake at Stanford University.

Education and training

    • Ph.D., 2014, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Honors and awards

  • 2003 - National Mathematics Olympiad (Second Place) for College Student, Vietnam
  • 2006 - Honda YES Award, Honda Foundation, Japan
  • 2007 - Huygens Scholarship, The Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, The Netherlands
  • 2009 - Best Poster Award (Second Place), Sumner School on Modern Developments in Spectroscopy, Noordwijk, The Netherlands
  • 2009 - Gregorio Weber Scholarship in Biophysics, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA
  • 2014 - Best Talk Award (First Place), Biophysics and Computational Biology Symposium, University of Illinois
  • 2014 - Best Poster Award (First Place), Midwest Chromatin and Epigenetics Meeting, Madison, Wisconsin
  • 2015 - Highlighted research article in Cell
  • 2017 - Cover Article for the journal Clinical Chemistry
  • 2018 - Cell-free RNA work featured in NYTimes, CNN, BBC, TIME Magazine, ABC News, The Guardian, US News, National Geographic and Daily Mail
  • 2018 - Cancer Research UK/OHSU Project Award
  • 2019 - Top 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2019 by MIT Technology Review for the cfRNA work


Selected publications

  • Christopher Maffeo, Thuy T. M. Ngo, Taekjip Ha, Aleksei Aksimentiev, A Coarse-grained Model of Unstructed Single-stranded DNA Derived from Atomistic Simulation and Single-molecule Experiment. Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, 10, 2891-2896 (2014). PMID: 25136266, PMCID: PMC4132850, DOI: 10.1021/ct500193u
  • Thuy T. M. Ngo, Taekjip Ha, Nucleosomes Undergo Slow Spontaneous Gaping. Nucleic Acids Research, 43 (8), 3964-3971 (2015). PMID: 25824950, PMCID: PMC4417179, DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkv276
  • Thuy T. M. Ngo, Qiucen Zhang, Ruobo Zhou, Jaya Yodh, Taekjip Ha. Asymmetric Unwrapping of Nucleosomes under Tension Directed by DNA Flexibility. Cell, 160 (6), 1135-1144 (2015). PMID: 25768909, PMCID: PMC4409768, DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.02.001. Featured in News and Views by Cell Preview: Moevus and Greene, Cell, 160 (6), 1039-1040 (2015)
  • Farhan Chowdhury, Isaac T. S. Li, Thuy T. M. Ngo, Ben J. Leslie, Byoung Choul Kim, Xuefeng Wang, Yann R. Chemla, Timothy M. Lohman, Taekjip Ha, Defining single molecular forces required for Notch activation using nano yoyo. Nano Letters, 16 (6), pp 3892–3897, (2016). PMID: 27167603, PMCID: PMC4899123, DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.6b01403
  • Thuy T. M. Ngo, Jejoong Yoo, Qing Dai, Qiucen Zhang, Chuan He, Aleksei Askimentiev, Taekjip Ha, Effects of Cytosine Modifications on DNA flexibility and Nucleosome Mechanical Stability. Nature Communications, 7, 10813 (2016). PMID: 26905257, PMCID: PMC4770088, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10813. Featured by Evolution News and Science Today.
  • Wenying Pan, Thuy T. M. Ngo, Joan Camunas-Soler, Chunxiao Song, Mark Alec Kowarsky, Yair J Blumenfeld, Ronald J, Wong, Gary M. Shaw, David K. Stevenson, and Stephen Quake; Simultaneously Monitoring Immune Response and Microbial Infections during Pregnancy through Plasma cfRNA Sequencing. Clinical Chemistry 63:11 (2017). PMID: 28904056, DOI: 10.1373/clinchem.2017.273888
  • Björn Hellenkamp, Sonja Schmid, ..., Thuy Ngo, ...,Thorsten Hugel, Precision and accuracy of single-molecule FRET measurements – a worldwide benchmark study;  Nature Methods, Vol. 15, pp. 669–676 (2018). PMID: 30171252, PMCID: PMC6121742, DOI: 10.1038/s41592-018-0085-0
  • Mohammad Sajjad Ghaemi, Daniel B. DiGiulio, Kévin Contrepois, Benjamin Callahan, Thuy T. M. Ngo, …, Nima Aghaeepour; Multiomics Modeling of the Immunome, Transcriptome, Microbiome, Proteome, and Metabolome Adaptations During Human Pregnancy. Bioinformatics (2018). PMID: 30561547, PMCID: PMC6298056; DOI:10.1093/bioinformatics/bty537
  • Thuy T. M. Ngo*, Mira N. Moufarrej*, Marie-Louise H. Rasmussen, Joan Camunas-Soler, Wenying Pan, Jennifer Okamoto, Norma F. Neff, Keli Liu, Ronald J. Wong, Katheryne Downes, Robert Tibshirani, Gary M. Shaw, Line Skotte, David K. Steveson, Joseph R. Biggio, Michal A. Elowitz, Mads Melbye and Stephen R. Quake; Noninvasive Blood Tests for Fetal Development Predicts Gestational Age and Preterm Delivery; 
  • J Mitra, MA Makurath, TTM Ngo, A Troitskaia, YR Chemla, T Ha; Extreme mechanical diversity of human telomeric DNA revealed by fluorescence-force spectroscopy; PNAS 116 (17), 8350-8359 (2019). PMID: 30944218, PMCID: PMC6486787, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1815162116


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