In 1976, Belinda Yen-Lieberman, PhD (RES/I’78), began her post-doctoral fellowship training at Cleveland Clinic. As her career progressed, she served as Medical Director of the Clinical and Molecular Virology Lab for 26 years. Today, she works as Contract Staff in the Microbiology Lab Special Projects Section. In all, she has been a caregiver at Cleveland Clinic for more than 40 years.
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But as a young woman in her native Taiwan, Dr. Yen-Lieberman never imagined living in the United States.
Her father, a college professor, always encouraged her to travel to the U.S. for college. “I was 19 years old and didn’t speak a word of English,” she says. “My father said, ‘You’re clever. The first year will be hell, but then you’ll be fine.’”
A love of lab work
All of Dr. Yen-Lieberman’s training is in microbiology and she has always loved working in the lab with bacteria and viruses. She helped to build the first HIV lab in Laboratory Medicine in 1990.
“We grew the virus, tested the presence of virus from patients, and performed thousands of HIV tests in our Clinical Microbiology Lab,” she says.
“I got to work with our wonderful medical technologists,” she adds, noting that while this work is often done behind the scenes, it’s critical to patient care. “They are the reason we have been successful as one of the best clinical microbiology labs. It’s like dream come true working with them in our lab!”
Dr. Yen-Lieberman says, “People don’t often see those who work in the lab. But they’re heroes.”
To support work in the area of infectious diseases, she and her husband, James, a radiologist, chose to fund an endowed chair at Cleveland Clinic. In 2018, they created The Belinda Yen-Lieberman, PhD, and James M. Lieberman, MD, Endowed Chair for the Advancement in Clinical Microbiology.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to give something back and I want to thank Cleveland Clinic for making my life a meaningful one,” says Dr. Yen-Lieberman.