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Alcohol Study Center Funded

by Lori Oliwentstein

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has renewed the USC-UCLA Research Center for Alcoholic Liver and Pancreatic Injury’s funding for another four years.

The $8.3-million grant will fund the center through 2008 and is a “reflection of outstanding collective efforts by all members during the past funding cycle,” said Hide Tsukamoto, the center’s director and professor of pathology in the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

“Our center is the only NIAAA/NIH-funded center of excellence in the country devoted to promotion of cutting-edge research on the pathogenesis of alcoholic liver and pancreatic diseases and cirrhosis, as well as dissemination of newly generated information on the diseases,” Tsukamoto said.

Over the past five years, the center has increased its National Institutes of Health grants six-fold and is making great strides toward the fulfillment of its mission, which is “to develop new therapeutic and preventive modalities based on the cellular and molecular understanding of how alcohol and secondary genetic or environmental factors make the liver and pancreas vulnerable to progressive damage,” Tsukamoto said.

“Even though we are far from achieving this ultimate goal, science pursued by the center’s investigators is beginning to generate critical insights into this central question.”

The NIAAA reviewers praised the center for its evolution into a “multifaceted program,” Tsukamoto said. With cutting-edge basic and clinical research, training for students at the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels, and a thriving public outreach component, the center is seen as “a unique and valuable resource,” he added.

The center continues to hold its annual symposium, in which its scientists present their work to the scientific community. And the center’s outreach efforts have expanded to include community seminars on such topics as the interactions between alcohol and nutrition, the hepatitis virus and the effects of obesity.

The next community seminar, slated for this December, will be a Q&A session in an open forum. “We believe this type of direct outreach activity most efficiently disseminates cutting-edge science information generated by the center-supported research to the local community,” Tsukamoto said.

Alcohol Study Center Funded

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