A Divinely Inspired Career:
A Day in the Life of Mateo Ziu, MD

Mateo Ziu, MD, is one of many medical experts who’ve been drawn to Austin by the new level of care that Dell Seton Medical Center at UT, Dell Medical School and local research opportunities will bring. Get a behind-the-scenes look into a day in his life.

Born and raised in communist Albania – a country where the government dictates your career path – Ziu says he thought accounting would be his life-long occupation. But a chance encounter with Mother Teresa changed his life forever.

Dr. Ziu photo gallery

It would lead him to a personal mission to take on some of the most emotionally and medically challenging cases – caring for brain cancer patients who often have very poor prognoses, sometimes only a few months to live.

During Ziu’s first year of college, Albania saw the fall of communism. On a mission to bring God back to her fellow countrymen, Mother Teresa opened churches, orphanages and homes for the poor. Young Ziu visited one of those churches where he later became a volunteer, interpreting for the holy sisters.

It was through this connection to the sisters, and later to Mother Teresa herself, that Ziu received an Italian visa and was selected for a scholarship to attend the University of Bari’s School of Medicine.

“I can’t imagine my life without meeting her,” he said. “I’m here because of Mother Teresa. I just hope I live up to her expectations and make her proud.”

Mission-based medicine

After finishing his neurosurgical oncology fellowship at MD Anderson, Ziu weighed his options. Austin was attractive.

“With the new medical school and Seton’s focus on transforming care, I thought I could help build a collaborative care mentality, like at MD Anderson,” he said.

Today, Ziu is a neurosurgical oncologist at University Medical Center at Brackenridge and will soon practice at Dell Seton Medical Center at UT when it opens in May 2017.

He treats patients with primary and metastatic brain and spine tumors. That means the majority of his patients receive grim prognoses. He also takes care of patients who have suffered strokes.

Recently, he was part of the expert surgical team, which included Dr. James Rose, that performed a new surgery to save one of its own – UMC Brackenridge OR nurse Gigi Gelvosa.

“We always suffer together with the patients, but when it’s someone you know and you worked with the day before, the emotions run deep,” said Ziu.

Gigi had a massive stroke and just happened to be a good candidate, and the first candidate in Central Texas, for surgery using what’s known as the BrainPath tool. The device and technology allow doctors to reach deep parts of the brain without damaging it. The BrainPath tool is here in Austin – saving lives – thanks to generous gifts from donors. A Seton Fund endowment helped purchase this new technology.

Ziu says it’s through his faith and his family that he’s able to practice this type of medicine. “I know this is the job that I was meant to do. It’s extremely rewarding.”

No such thing as a set schedule

“I can look at my schedule the night before and see I have two surgeries. But inevitably, a patient’s condition will change or worsen. An additional procedure will be added. It’s just the nature of this job. You get used to it.”

But he doesn’t do it alone. He depends on the multi-disciplinary team at the Seton Brain and Spine Institute to provide the best care possible to his patients.

>>See a gallery of a day in the life of a neurosurgical oncologist at UMC Brackenridge

He regularly huddles to discuss a patient’s case with his physician assistants, other neurosurgeons, a neuroradiologist, nurses, residents and medical students.

Cancer treatment is best if it’s delivered in an integrated way, so the entire treatment team works together to target each patient’s cancer according to their individual needs, Ziu said.

Ziu sets sights on comprehensive cancer center

It’s no coincidence that Ziu landed in Austin. He was recruited to this town to transform it into Central Texas’s cancer care hub in collaboration with The University of Texas at Austin, Central Health and LIVESTRONG.

Along with Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, opening May 2017, this community now has the dynamic foundation it needs to build a comprehensive cancer center, according to Ziu.

“My hope is that we will build a cancer center that will allow us to deliver precise, personalized treatments designed by a diverse team of experts, working closely with local researchers, in local labs,” Ziu said. “That’s why this is home now.”

How you can help

You can bring more doctors, like Dr. Ziu, research, and specialized care to Austin with your gift to support Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas. Make a donation today!

Your gift will be doubled!

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is helping to elevate Central Texans’ health with a $25 million challenge grant to help build the new Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas.

This generous grant will double every donation, whether it’s $10 or $10,000, up to $25 million. Many thanks to the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and you for supporting Seton and the future of care in our community!

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Seton’s new teaching hospital will become Central Texas’ gateway to the future of care.

With Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, Austin will have more specialists for a growing population; sustain high quality care

for all, with a special concern for the vulnerable; discover new treatments, and enjoy economic growth.

This is a game-changer for our city. What transpires will be as future-focused as Austin.


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I want to help.

Your vision of a healthier Austin will become a reality, one person, one commitment, one donation at a time.

Now your gifts to help build Seton’s new teaching hospital will be doubled, dollar for dollar up to $25 million, thanks to a generous challenge grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation!