Dr. Nghiemphu Interview

Dr. Nghiemphu Interview

Dr. Phioanh “Leia” Nghiemphu, has been a faculty member at UCLA since 2006. Her current role as a Neuro-Oncology Specialist includes responsibility as the Director of Neuro-Oncology Clinical Service AND the Director of the Neuro-Oncology Fellowship Program. She is also the Clinical Director of the UCLA  Neurofibromatosis Program.  In these capacities, she is charged with developing and maintaining a highly coordinated, integrated, patient-centered practice for the care of patients with brain and nervous system tumors.

Dr. Nghiemphu studied at Einstein College of Medicine. She completed her residency in Neurology at Stanford University Medical Center followed by a Fellowship at UCLA Neuro-Oncology Program.

While completing her residency, Dr. Nghiemphu realized many patients with brain tumors were not getting a great portion of their needs met. First, the treatment options for brain tumors were very limited. Secondly, after or in conjunction with treatments, brain tumor patients also needed care in most other aspects of their lives.  The lack of additional support greatly affected their quality of life and the lives of their caregivers. She felt a daily reminder that, Neuro-Oncology was in its early stages and full of opportunities to bring a more impactful outcome to her patients.

She is a people person who cherishes the relationships she has created and developed with her patients and their families. These relationships are built and maintained based on her interest and commitment to seeing and treating each of her patients as a whole person and unique individual.

Although successes in this field are still hard earned, every incremental success is a step forward. Dr Nghiemphu is excited to see and be a part of each new development, and opportunity to improve patient’s prognosis.

What makes her work fulfilling is her involvement in caring for patients. Some of her patients she met and treated during her fellowship in the early 2000s. She of course finds deep satisfaction when patient’s tumors remain stable. She is even more delighted when she hears treatments have shrunk tumors! Every good scan is a success.

Dr. Nghiemphu wishes the general public knew and understood that advances in brain cancer treatment is so dependent on sufficient funding research/treatment. Without adequate funding, it takes longer to get the improved positive outcomes we see with other cancers.

Dr. Nghiemphu chose this specialty because, “There are not enough treatments and there is no cure for brain cancer. We still need to understand what makes these tumors grow, how they can be controlled, and how best to test therapies to show that they are successful at treating brain tumors. We can only do this with the help of everyone, as federal funding alone is not enough, especially with respect to conducting clinical trials that require a lot of time and effort from doctors, staff and patients.”

Technically I still am the operational director. I just don’t use that title formally.

Pictured left to right: Isabel Neidorf, Dr. Phioanh “Leia” Nghiemphu
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