USC recruits two renowned neurosurgeons to bolster multidisciplinary spine care center

USC neurosurgeons John C. Liu and Frank Acosta

Neurosurgeons John C. Liu, M.D., and Frank Acosta, M.D., have been recruited from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to join other neurosurgical and orthopaedic spine experts at USC. They began seeing patients at the Keck Medical Center of USC on Feb. 1, 2013.
Photos by Phil Channing

By Alison Trinidad

USC has recruited two esteemed spine surgeons who will play critical roles in expanding a multi-disciplinary, academic-based spine center at the Keck Medical Center of USC.

John C. Liu, M.D., and Frank Acosta, M.D., previously practicing at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, join other neurosurgical and orthopaedic spine experts at USC and begin seeing patients on Feb. 1, 2013.

Liu, a recognized leader and considered a pioneer in minimally invasive surgical techniques for the spine, has been named professor of neurosurgery and director of the spine division at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Acosta, a fellowship-trained neurosurgeon in complex spine deformity, has been named associate professor of neurosurgery at the Keck School. Both are experts in the clinical care of complicated spinal disorders and join USC from the Cedars-Sinai Spine Center.

“At the Keck Medical Center of USC, we are committed to ensuring that our patients have access to the best doctors,” said Tom Jackiewicz, senior vice president and CEO for USC Health. “Both Dr. Liu and Dr. Acosta are tremendous additions to the medical center’s comprehensive spine program.”

Liu, a board certified neurosurgeon, had been vice chairman of spine services and co-medical director of the spine center at Cedars-Sinai since January 2011. Prior to Cedars, Liu was director of spinal surgery at Northwestern University in Chicago. One of the country’s preeminent specialists in intricate and minimally invasive spine surgery, Liu is leading research to study innovative technologies and techniques for the treatment of conditions such as spinal deformities, scoliosis and spinal cord injuries.

“The opportunity to join a team of doctors as distinguished as those at USC and help them build a premier academic spine center was difficult to turn down,” said Liu. “I am honored to have this opportunity.”

Acosta, who has published more than 70 peer-reviewed articles, led a clinical practice at Cedars-Sinai that focused on complex spinal reconstruction and spinal deformities. His research, which concentrates on the diagnosis and treatment of spinal disorders, has been funded by National Institutes of Health, Harvard Medical School and Howard Hughes Medical Institute grants and fellowships.

“I am very much looking forward to joining the USC family,” Acosta said. “I think the team approach that we will take in both the clinical and basic research settings will not only make USC's spine program one of the best in the nation, but will ultimately improve the lives of patients suffering from spinal problems who seek treatment at USC.”

The Keck Medical Center of USC hosts physicians and surgeons with expertise in a range of neurological diseases and disorders, including minimally invasive surgical techniques, diagnostic tests and medicine.

“The neurosurgery and neurology programs at Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital are second to none,” said Scott Evans, CEO of the USC hospitals. “Our approach to patient care is comprehensive and we are privileged to be able to call upon Dr. Liu and Dr. Acosta’s expertise in diagnosing and treating the most complex of spinal disorders.”

Spinal diseases that change the structure of the spine or damage the vertebrae often cause pain and can limit movement. Treatment varies by disease, but USC has assembled a cadre of specialists to provide complete care for the patient with spinal problems.

“Collaborating with the doctors in USC’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, we are building the leading spinal surgery program on the West Coast,” said Steven Giannotta, M.D., chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery. “Dr. Liu and Dr. Acosta, along with Dr. Patrick Hsieh and Dr. Thomas Chen, are integral in setting that initiative into motion.”

A lieutenant colonel of the United States Army Reserves, Liu has earned several honors including the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Brooke Army Medical Center Commanding General Award for Excellence and the Army Achievement Medal for Meritorious Service. He earned his medical degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and completed a surgical internship, a residency in neurological surgery and a fellowship in complex spine surgery and minimally invasive surgery at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Acosta earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry magna cum laude from Harvard College and his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. He completed an internship and neurosurgical residency at the University of California, San Francisco, and a fellowship in complex and reconstructive spine surgery at Northwestern University.

The spinal surgery program at the Keck Medical Center of USC is led by Patrick Hsieh, M.D., associate professor of neurological surgery; Thomas Chen, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurological surgery and pathology; and Mark J. Spoonamore, M.D., assistant professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery. Keck Hospital of USC is consistently ranked among the nation’s top hospitals for neurosurgery and orthopaedics care by U.S. News & World Report.

University of Southern California University of Southern California