Meet Larissa V. Rodríguez, MD, professor of urology, vice chair of academics, USC Institute of Urology, Keck School of Medicine of USC, and director, USC Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Keck Medicine – Beverly Hills.

Dr. Rodríguez has extensive experience in the field of female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery and is nationally and internationally recognized for her work in stem cell research, tissue engineering and voiding dysfunction in research models. Here’s what you won’t find on her resume:

She is a leader in pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.
“My specialty, previously known as female urology, has evolved into pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. I specialize in treating voiding dysfunction, vaginal prolapse, urethral diverticuli, incontinence, inability to urinate and urinary retention in both men and women. I also specialize in reconstruction. If a surgeon removes a bladder due to cancer, we can build a new one.”

She pursued urology for its research opportunities.
“I knew I wanted to be in academic medicine, and pelvic medicine seemed to be a very open field. Very little research had been done in this area at the time, and there were very few clinical surgeons who engaged in this research. The appeal to pursue urology came from the opportunity to help expand the field. I wanted to develop new techniques for treating and preventing diseases of the pelvic area.

Also, because urologists treat a significant number of female patients, we have the opportunity to make an impact on women’s health. Urology considers the difference between men and women biologically, which was very interesting to me as well.”

She empowers her patients to make decisions.
“I like to provide my patients with evidence-based discussions and alternatives, so they can be involved in the treatment process. It’s my job to give them choices and allow them to consider the treatments they are willing to undergo. Some patients may find that perplexing because they are used to seeing a doctor who tells them what they need. I don’t often do that. Because many problems affecting the pelvic floor are quality of life issues, patients should decide how much the condition impacts their lives. That’s a very personal process.”

She was raised in the Caribbean.
“I was born and raised in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, a suburb of San Juan. I lived there until I moved to Massachusetts to pursue my undergraduate degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

She learned Portuguese while providing health care in Brazil.
“I went to Brazil towards the end of my medical school education. I received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education that enabled me to learn Portuguese in Brazil. I participated in a health-related project in downtown Rio de Janeiro when the country was going through a really difficult period in its history. Children living in the streets were victims of violence so we would look for them, provide them with basic physical examinations and take them to the hospital if needed.”

Dancing was her early passion.
“Growing up, I was a professional ballet dancer. I was a member of the Ballets de San Juan in Puerto Rico. I don’t dance ballet anymore, but I love to dance to all kinds of music, including salsa.”

She’s an avid hiker.
“I find my soul is driven to the outdoors. I enjoy hiking and back-country camping very much. A few years ago, I spent seven days away from civilization during a hike into Machu Picchu where I encountered locals along the way. That was an ideal trip.”

She has worked in academic medicine for 15 years.
“Before coming to USC, I had achieved many of my personal goals and was deciding what to do next. I feel young and energetic, and there are many things I still want to accomplish. USC seemed similar to me in that it also is young and energetic with many things it wants to accomplish. ”

Dr. Rodriguez is the director of USC Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at Keck Medicine – Beverly Hills. For more information about the USC Institute of Urology, click here.

Click here to view Dr. Rodríguez’s full biography.