National Academy of Medicine selects Asian American neurosurgeon for membership

LOS ANGELES — An Asian American neurosurgeon and scientist was recently elected to the National Academy of Medicine, it was announced. Election to the academy is one of the highest honors in health and medicine, according a statement issued by UCLA, where Dr. Linda Liau serves chair of the David Geffen School of Medicine’s neurosurgery department.

            She was the first Asian American woman and second female overall to serve as the head of an academic department on neurosurgery. UCLA staff stated only 6 percent of licensed neurosurgeons across the country are women.

            “As chair, Liau directs a clinical team of more than 60 neurosurgeons, neuroscientists, residents, fellows and other specialists in the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery, one of the world’s foremost centers for neurosurgical research, clinical care and education,” UCLA staff said about the new National Academy of Medicine in a released statement.

            Liau has spent a quarter of a century working on treatment strategies for glioblastoma, a deadly form of brain cancer. One of her first breakthroughs occurred early in her time at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, where Liau serves as a scientist. Her research there in the early 1990s opened the door for the creation of a personalized vaccine to tackle cancer. The vaccine used the patient’s “own tumor specimen and white blood cells to activate the immune system to fight off cancer,” a UCLA statement on Liau’s election said.

            “Recognized for her expertise in complicated tumor surgery, Liau attracts patients from around the world and has performed more than 2,000 brain tumor surgeries,” the official UCLA statement continued. “Her research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for the past two decades, and she has written more than 160 research articles, along with several book chapters and textbooks.”

            The National Academy of Medicine was formally known as the Institute of Medicine (1970 to 2015); the organization, according to UCLA, “provides independent analysis, informs public policy decisions, encourages education and research and increases public understanding of medical and health issues.”

Photo composite by UCLA Health