About Dr. Linda Liau
Dr. Linda Liau: is chair of the Neurosurgery Department at the University of California, Los Angeles; second woman to chair a neurosurgery program in the United States; first woman to chair the American Board of Neurological Surgery; first woman president of the Western Neurosurgical Society; and one of only a handful of neurosurgeons elected to the National Academy of Medicine.
Now the chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Dr. Liau is only the second woman, and the first Asian American woman, in the United States to chair an academic neurosurgical department (2017).1To this day, in 2020, there have been only four female chairs of neurosurgery programs in the US. Dr. Liau has held many titles as the first woman: chair of the American Board of Neurological Surgery (ABNS) (2019–2020),2 president of the Western Neurosurgical Society (2015–2016), editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neuro-Oncology (2007–2017), elected member of The Society of Neurological Surgeons (2013)3 and the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) (2018),4,5 and countless other leadership and scientific accolades. She is a wild success by any standards.
Dr. Linda Liau, Chair, UCLA Department of Neurosurgery
An internationally renowned surgeon, scientist and educator, Dr. Liau is presently Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery. She also directs the UCLA Brain Tumor Program, one of the world’s leading centers for brain tumor research, diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Liau is internationally known for her pioneering research on clinical neuro-immunology and brain cancer immunotherapies. She is the Principal Investigator of a recently awarded National Cancer Institute Brain Tumor SPORE, which is a $11.4M grant that supports a large multi-disciplinary group of scientists and clinicians in their efforts to diagnose, treat and cure brain cancer. She is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Neuro-Oncology and a member of several prestigious organizations including the nominating committee of the American Association of Neurological Surgery and the Board of Directors of the American Board of Neurological Surgeons.
Dr. Liau holds B.S. and B.A. degrees from Brown University. She received her medical degree from Stanford University and completed residency training in neurosurgery at UCLA. Dr. Liau also received a doctoral degree in Neuroscience at UCLA and an M.B.A. from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Dr. Liau's clinical expertise is in intraoperative functional brain mapping and use of intraoperative adjuvants for the resection and treatment of brain tumors. Her research efforts are focused on the molecular biology of brain tumors, gene therapy, immunotherapy, and brain cancer vaccines. Dr. Liau has also served as a co-leader of the DGSOM Neuroscience Research Theme since 2013, where her efforts have helped in the development of strong interdepartmental research program in neuroscience.
Consistently ranked among the top neurosurgery departments in the country according to U.S. News and World Report, the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery is deeply committed to its tripartite mission of providing world-class patient care, translating innovative research into medical breakthroughs at the bedside, and educating the future leaders of tomorrow. With the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center, the UCLA Stroke Center (one of only eight centers in the country with funding from the NIH SPOTRIAS grant), the UCLA Brain Tumor Center (one of only five centers in the country with NIH SPORE grant funding), and the UCLA Spine Center, the department is engaged in exciting research efforts and personalized care, bringing biomedical scientists and surgeons together in the quest to tackle a wide array of diseases including brain tumors, stroke, aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations, traumatic neurologic injury, epilepsy, movement disorders, spinal cord injury and spine disorders.
It is not possible to capture all the depth that composes Dr. Linda Liau: chair of the Neurosurgery Department at the University of California, Los Angeles; second woman to chair a neurosurgery program in the United States; first woman to chair the American Board of Neurological Surgery; first woman president of the Western Neurosurgical Society; and one of only a handful of neurosurgeons elected to the National Academy of Medicine. Her childhood and family history alone could fascinate several chapters of her life’s biography. Nonetheless, this brief biography hopes to capture the challenges, triumphs, cultural norms, and spirit that have shaped Dr. Liau’s experience as a successful leader, scientist, and neurosurgeon. This is a rare story. It describes the rise of not only an immigrant within neurosurgery—not unlike other giants in the field, Drs. Robert Spetzler, Jacques Marcos, Ossama Al-Mefty, and a handful of other contemporaries—but also another type of minority in neurosurgery: a woman.