Ph.D. 1999, MBA 2016, Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery
SHE LEADS THE BRAIN TRUST THAT FIGHTS BRAIN TUMORS.
Dr. Linda Liau’s memories of her UCLA medical residency are bittersweet. While Liau was mastering neurosurgery, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. When the cancer spread to her brain, Liau understood better than other family members what was happening. But she was powerless to stop it. So after her mother’s death, when she finished her residency, Liau set out to earn a Ph.D. in neuroscience. Her research led her to invent a vaccine against the rare but deadly brain tumor called glioblastoma. The personalized vaccine, designed to trigger a patient’s immune system to fight the tumor, is in the third stage of FDA approval. But Liau still wasn’t finished. She earned an MBA from UCLA’s management school in 2016. Now she leads a team of neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists and other specialists at the UCLA Brain Tumor Center, where as many as 50 experts join forces to consider the complex cases the center treats. “True leadership is much more about ‘we’ than ‘me,’” she says.