The USC Research Center for Liver Diseases received a competitive renewal of a $6.07 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Led by Neil Kaplowitz, chief of the division of gastrointestinal and liver diseases and Thomas Brem/USC Associates Professor of Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the center has had continuous funding from the institute since the center’s inception in 1995. With this renewal, the Liver Center will be funded through 2015.
The center focuses on basic and translational research in the area of liver disease and injury, including acute and chronic viral hepatitis, medication and alcohol-induced liver disease, fatty liver disease, cirrhosis and liver cancer.
According to Kaplowitz, who also holds the Veronica P. Budnick Chair in Liver Disease, the institute funds approximately 16 center grants, but of that number, only four are centers focusing on liver disease.
“It’s a marker of recognition that we have one of the nation’s leading liver research programs,” he said. “We’re up against other strong proposals, and every time, we come out as one of the top-rated applications in our pool. It reflects the outstanding level of liver science, as well as our ties to an excellent clinical program that’s expanding now with the acquisition of USC University Hospital.”
The center supports research and promotes an enrichment program that brings renowned scientists from around the country to discuss their research.
The center currently has 43 members from across the Health Sciences campus and approximately 20 affiliated members.
Members are individuals who are conducting NIH-supported research in digestive diseases, while affiliated members are conducting NIH-supported research in other areas with collaborative activities.
Liver immunology and stem cell approaches to liver diseases are two areas that Kaplowitz sees the center pursuing in the near future.
“Clinical and translational research will really be areas we focus on next because they complement both the basic science, which is outstanding here, and the new emphasis and support in the hospital arena,” he said.
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