Meet Our Team

Meet John C. Liu, MD

Originally published June 17, 2016

Last updated April 30, 2024

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Dr. Liu is a neurosurgeon at Keck Medicine of USC, who specializes in neurological and spine surgery .

Here’s what you won’t find on his resume.

He had dreams of the big leagues.

“When I was growing up, I wanted to be a professional baseball player. I think I would’ve made a great catcher.”

Family time is precious to him.

“I love to spend time with my family. I have three sons, and we go to sport-related events on the weekend. Every week, I have a ‘date night’ with my wife, and we usually choose a new restaurant to try around the West Side. It’s a great way for us to catch up with each other, since we both have such busy schedules. We also love to take the whole family on vacations to Hawaii. It’s just so relaxing and beautiful. It’s a great place for family bonding.”

He’s goal-oriented.

“I have three goals I have yet to achieve. My whole life, I’ve wanted to see the Vatican. Our family is planning to make this a reality in the future. I’ve also been married to my wonderful wife for 17 years. I’m looking forward to celebrating our 25-year anniversary. I’ve also written around 80 scientific publications thus far, and I hope to reach 100 before I enter retirement.”

There’s nowhere else he would rather be.

“I wouldn’t trade my career with anyone in the world. I’m very happy and content with where I am in life.”

His sense of humor may surprise you.

“Most people think that since I’m a doctor I’m a serious person. Many people are quite surprised to find out that I’m easygoing and silly and have a pretty good sense of humor.”

Mentors helped guide his career.

“The two best pieces of advice I ever received were to be humble and not to take myself too seriously. My biggest role models growing up were my parents. They taught me to always be humble and to work harder than everyone else. My father was an immigrant, and watching him build a business career from nothing was quite inspiring. During residency, Steve Ondra and Hunt Batjer helped shape me into the neurosurgeon I am today.”

Medicine offers him the opportunity to give back.

“I decided to apply to medical school, because I always thought being a doctor and helping others in a time of need was a very noble profession. I found it similar to being a firefighter, solider, police officer or teacher.”

Watching his patients heal is a source of inspiration.

“Patients entrust their life and care to me. That inspires me to be the best physician I can be every day. When I see patients doing well or when I see residents and fellows developing into great surgeons, I feel the rewards of my career.”

Technology plays an important role in spine surgery.

“When I first started my career, the process of completing a spine surgery was complex, uncomfortable and time-consuming. Due to advancements in technology, we now have the ability to perform surgery with minimally invasive access and navigation to the spine.”

Keck Medicine is his extended family.

“Working at Keck Medicine allows me to be around people who have such a strong sense of community. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to work on research focused on patient outcomes after spine surgery, techniques in minimally invasive spine surgery and spinal cord injury.”

View Dr. Liu’s full biography and schedule an appointment.