Opening the doors for the future

Dr. David Lieu

School of Medicine alum and current UCI Parent, Dr. David Lieu ’79 MD, MBA is giving back as a tribute to those who came before him and helped him succeed.

For Dr. David Lieu ’79 M.D., MBA, the odds seemed stacked against him. He was the son of Chinese immigrant farmers and only spoke Chinese when he first started school. Despite these hurdles, he wanted to fulfill his parents' dream of a better life for their children. Although his parents' formal education stopped at fourth and tenth grade, David says they always stressed the importance of school. He knew that through hard work and perseverance, he would be able to accomplish this dream.

He eventually went on to study chemistry at UC Berkeley and applied to medical schools across the country.

“I applied to several different medical schools, but UCI was the only one that took a chance on me. For that, I will always be grateful. When I came here in 1975, there were 10,000 students, tuition was $300/quarter, and parking was free. I was very shy and uncomfortable seeing patients, but it was here where I found my passion for family practice, radiology, and pathology."

Dr. Lieu became one of the youngest medical students to be accepted into the UCI School of Medicine, and graduated in 1979, at the age of 23. It was at UCI where he also met his wife, Diana Lieu ’79, PharmD, who graduated from the School of Biological Sciences.

David went on to complete his residency at USC and fellowship at UCLA, ultimately obtaining board certifications in anatomic and clinical pathology and cytopathology.

Today, he runs an ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration clinic in Alhambra, CA. One of the busiest FNA clinics in the country, it hosts more than 2,000 biopsies a year. He has become a leader in the study of pathology, training cytopathology fellows from UCLA, USC, and UCI in ultrasound-guided FNA, teaching continuing medical education courses for pathologists throughout the United States, lecturing at universities and hospitals as a visiting professor, and teaching an online cancer course for UC Berkeley

When Dr. Lieu is not working in his clinic, publishing papers, or lecturing at national and international conferences, he is a proud parent of two UC students, Debbie, a UC Berkeley biology major, and Darren, a UCI junior this year. 

Dr. Lieu is grateful for all that the UC system has given and his family and knows there’s a responsibility to give back to all those that came before him and helped him succeed.

Lieu Scholars in Medical Leadership Endowment
During an Anteater Welcome Reception, the Lieu family presented a check to establish the Lieu Scholars in Medical Leadership Endowment.

“The University of California has a public mission to educate those of us who are willing to work hard to succeed.  It is not here just for the elite.  It is here for all of us.  It is here for you and me.  So, work hard, do great things, and give back to those people and institutions that helped you get there.”

And Dr. Lieu is taking that to heart. At UCI alone, he has been a partner and leader in several campus events, including serving as a mentor to UCI Medical School students, inviting alumni, students and faculty for Dinner with 12 Anteaters, hosting Anteater Welcome Receptions for incoming freshman and their parents, and contributing to multiple departments and the UCI Care-a-thon.

Dr. Lieu and his family established the Lieu Scholars in Medical Leadership Endowment, which will provide scholarship support to talented students to attend medical school, regardless of personal or financial barriers. It is the largest medical student scholarship the School of Medicine has ever received.  In addition, Dr. Lieu will serve as a mentor and share his wisdom to the recipients of the award annually.  

His ultimate goal to open the doors for future students so that they can be afforded the opportunities that he didn't have growing up.

“Private donors have become increasingly important in educating the next generation of doctors, engineers, scientists, teachers, businessmen, and other professionals. Yesterday, we were helped by the generosity of strangers who came before us. Today, we are the strangers who must help those who come after us. I donate much of my income to education to help those who come after me as a tribute to those who came before me and helped me.”

Dr. Lieu is hoping that that his story will inspire future generations to not only dream big but also to pay it forward. With his support, the most promising students in the nation, regardless of their personal circumstances, will have a chance to pursue their dreams and shape the future.  

Ways to give

Blanca Castro 2

You can help create a brilliant future just like Dr. David Lieu and his family by supporting The UCI Fund. Serving students and faculty across the campus, gifts provide the university with crucial flexible funding to enrich student life, embrace new opportunities and respond to pressing needs. Invest in UCI and make a lasting impact. Give a gift to The UCI Fund today.

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