Dy Tien Nguyen was born in Hai Duong, Vietnam and is the oldest of ten siblings. His family moved from village to village in the midst of The First Indochina War and later migrated to South Vietnam when the country divided in 1954. After high school, he enlisted in the Vietnamese Army Military Medical School. After his training, he started his fellowship in San Antonio for additional training in general surgery. When the Vietnam War ended, Nguyen became a refugee and chose to stay in the US and switch to anesthesiology. After 26 years at MD Anderson as an academic physician, he now spends his time teaching the Vietnamese language and tai chi.