Meet Our Team

Meet Thomas C. Chen, MD, PhD

Originally published December 22, 2016

Last updated April 30, 2024

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Dr. Chen is a neurosurgeon at Keck Medicine of USC, who specializes in spine cancer.

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

He never thought of being anything but a doctor.

“Growing up, my parents were my biggest role models. They helped me set my goals to become a doctor. I originally applied to medical school because I never thought of doing anything else. I love being a doctor so much that I’ve never even thought of changing places with anyone.”

One day he will travel the world.

“I love to travel in my free time. My favorite travel destination is Hawaii. There are three things I still have yet to check off my bucket list. I want to take a trip around the world, write a few books on neurosurgery and motivation, and create new companies focused on treatment of central nervous system diseases.”

He believes in the power of hope.

“‘Don’t give up’ is the best piece of advice I have ever received. My patients depend on me and they come to me with severe complications, such as spine and brain tumors. The advice was so profound to me that I share it with my patients as well.”

Multitasking is a must.

“The most challenging part of my day is that it’s only 24 hours long. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to finish everything I want to get done. I prioritize treating patients, but I also dedicate time to working on translational research and coming up with new treatments that are currently in clinical trials for brain tumor patients.”

Helping patients motivates him.

“The most rewarding part of my career is helping a patient with a brain tumor. After surgery, patients may experience life-changing results.”

Keck Medicine gives him autonomy.

“I love working at Keck Medicine because we work in a team environment and it’s just the right size. What helps set us apart is our dedication to personalized care and advanced treatment options. I chose to work at an academic medical center so that I could have the freedom to do research within the field.

He’s a part of the future of his field.

“I’m involved in a clinical trial for gliomas, a type of tumor that occurs in the brain and spinal cord. Our work could potentially revolutionize the treatment for brain tumors. We are investigating if chemotherapy can be inhaled through the nose, while at rest, as opposed to being injected intravenously. I hope we can work toward a cure for brain cancer.”

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