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Meet David Tran, MD

Originally published May 9, 2023

Last updated May 11, 2023

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Dr. David Tran, a neuro-oncologist at Keck Medicine of USC

Dr. Tran is a neuro-oncologist at Keck Medicine of USC, who specializes in the medical treatment of brain and spinal cord tumors.

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

He’s got a green thumb.

“I like to garden — growing decorative trees and flowering plants, like orchids and rare succulents. I’m no expert in this art form, but I enjoy using my creativity to make new growing media (soil) and learning how to grow orchids outdoors in large planters with my special soil. Gardening helps refresh my mind. Some of my best scientific ideas came to my mind, while I gardened.”

Exploring the Himalayas is on his bucket list.

“Three things that I have yet to cross off my personal bucket list are: developing a cure for brain cancer, trekking to the base camp of Mount Everest and visiting the other grandeurs of the Himalayas, and experiencing Victoria Falls and Iguazu Falls up close.”

The culinary arts are close to his heart.

“People might be surprised to learn that I’m creative in the kitchen. I like to combine ingredients in interesting ways to create new flavors and textures. I’m far from a Michelin-star-level chef, but my creations are homey and interesting.”

He likes to explore new cultures through the foods they eat.

“I like to travel to far-flung places and sample the local cuisines. To me, the foods we eat are the culmination and reflection of our unique culture and heritage. So, I like to learn how the local people live, think and view the world through the foods they eat.”

He often follows the path less traveled.

“The best advice I’ve ever received came from a prominent scientist, who said that as physicians and scientists we should go where the sea is rough and few venture, because that’s where we are most needed and can make the most impact — it’s where breakthroughs are born. I’ve followed this advice by dedicating my career to finding a cure for brain cancer and other formidable and dreaded cancers.”

His patients are a source of inspiration.

“My patients are the most influential driving force behind everything I do as a doctor. Every patient success story teaches us invaluable insights and helps us further improve patient care and outcomes. Treatment challenges are also helpful, because they teach us that there’s so much more to research and learn in our mission to overcome cancer, especially brain cancer.”

Here’s his advice for future neuro-oncologists.

“I would offer medical students, who are considering a career in neuro-oncology, the same advice given to me: Although we’ve made a lot of progress, neuro-oncology remains one of the toughest specialties in cancer care. However, we must continue our efforts to find a cure for brain cancer, because the lives of our patients depend on it.”

His research focuses on finding new treatments for brain cancer.

“My research team has created powerful artificial intelligence engines that help us accelerate the discovery and development of treatment options for cancer. Currently, we’re also working on a first-of-its-kind gene therapy designed to eliminate cancer stem cells in glioblastoma, the most aggressive and most common form of brain and spinal cord cancer in adults.

“We have also developed several potent cancer immunotherapy and vaccine treatments that can safely harness the cancer-fighting properties of the immune system. Finding effective treatments for cancer, and brain cancer in particular, is a key focus of my research efforts.”

He shares Keck Medicine’s commitment to patient-centered care.

“What I like the most about working at Keck Medicine is the collaborative atmosphere at all levels, which makes delivering safe and effective care to our patients and their families our most important focus. We offer our patients access to renowned doctors and experts, and the most advanced technology found anywhere. As an academic medical center, we ensure that every patient who entrusts us with their health receives the safest, most compassionate and innovative medical care.

“Our team at the USC Brain Tumor Center has a stellar history of serving its patients with world-class care supported by cutting-edge research and clinical trials. We bring together a team of specialists who deliver personalized, patient-centered care for brain and spinal cord tumors.”

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