Dr. Linda Liau, an internationally renowned neurosurgeon-scientist at UCLA, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine.

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Linda Liau

The university announced Oct. 15 that the chair of the neurosurgery department at the David Geffen School of Medicine had received one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.

Liau, a scientist at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, has spent a quarter century studying how to cure glioblastoma, a deadly brain cancer. She created one of the first personized vaccines to trigger the immune system to fight off cancer.

“I am thrilled to see Dr. Liau’s scientific creativity and unwavering dedication to brain cancer patients recognized by the National Academy of Medicine,” said Dr. Kelsey Martin, dean of the Geffen School of Medicine, in a statement. “She is a true pioneer in immunotherapy.”

The physician-scientist has performed more than 2,000 brain tumor surgeries on patients from around the world. She is the author of more than 160 research papers, in addition to several textbooks and chapters.

She is also the second woman in the nation, and the first Asian-American woman, to lead an academic department of neurosurgery. Just 6 percent of all licensed neurosurgeons in the U.S. are women.

“I have always had a huge drive to prove that things that seem impossible can actually be possible someday,” Liau said, in a statement. “When I first started working on brain tumor immunotherapy, everyone told me that you can’t mount an immune response in the brain.

“Now we know that’s not true.”

The National Academy of Medicine has since 1970 recognized those who have made major contributions to advancing medical science, health care and public health. Its elected members now include 26 current and former UCLA medical school faculty.

Health business reporter Dana Bartholomew can be reached at dbartholomew@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @_DanaBart.