Gabriel Zada, MD, is an internationally recognized neurosurgeon-scientist who specializes in brain, skull base and pituitary tumor surgery.
The director of the USC Brain Tumor Center at Keck Medicine of USC and an associate professor of neurological surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Dr. Zada is an expert in endoscopic and minimally invasive neurosurgical techniques.
Here’s what you won’t find on his resume.
Self-determination — and great minds — influenced his decision to become a neurosurgeon.
“When I was young, I wanted to be a basketball player, architect, then a doctor or a surgeon. I solidified my decision to be a doctor when I was 10 years old after receiving a medical encyclopedia as a gift. Later as an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, I was influenced by Dr. Marianne Diamond, my neuroanatomy professor, who had become famous for studying Albert Einstein’s brain after he passed away. She made learning about the complex intricacies of neuroanatomy as simple and enjoyable as being in kindergarten.”
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He spends his free time exploring the world — or a good book.
“When I’m not working, I’m usually hiking with my dog Finch, swimming or cycling. I love reading books, traveling and being with my close family and friends. My favorite destinations are Kauai, Israel and the Amalfi Coast of Italy.”
A revolutionary scientist was his hero.
“My biggest role model growing up was the scientist and philosopher Albert Einstein. He saw the world in a completely different way and wasn’t afraid to pursue his inquiries and speak out against injustice worldwide.”
Seeing his patients thrive is what drives him.
“My patients and colleagues provide an endless supply of inspiration and renewal on a daily basis. Having empathy for patients and understanding the challenges that they and their families face on a daily basis push me to continually strive to be the best physician I can be. I find so much reward in seeing my patients recover from complex operations and treatments and then go on to have a better quality of life.”
He thinks minimally invasive techniques have transformed neurosurgery.
“Endoscopy is one of the most influential advancements in my field. The ability to access complex areas of the brain with minimal invasiveness allows neurosurgeons like myself to help patients recover so much faster from complex operations than they used to with more invasive types of surgeries.”
He believes that targeted brain tumor treatments are on the horizon.
“One medical advancement that I’m looking forward to seeing in my lifetime is targeted medical treatments that successfully treat invasive brain tumors. We’re researching that here at Keck Medicine and hope we can limit the amount of surgery and radiation that patients will need to receive in the future.”
Teaching, research and collaboration are why he chose Keck Medicine.
“I decided to practice at an academic medical center not only because I love doing research, but also because my number one passion has always been teaching. Working with residents, fellows and medical students is one of the most fulfilling parts of my career. We have an unprecedented amount of collegiality here at Keck Medicine and work in close-knit teams. I feel that type of streamlined care makes a huge difference in patient outcomes and the future of our specialty.”
He has practical advice for aspiring neurosurgeons.
“If I could give an incoming medical student one piece of advice about neurosurgery, I would tell them, ‘If it were easy, everyone would do it. You need to have a substantial amount of grit and patience in this profession.’”