Home » UofL receives $11.3 million from NIH for liver research center

UofL receives $11.3 million from NIH for liver research center

Renewal funding for Hepatobiology and Toxicology Center supports researchers seeking treatments for liver diseases for a second five years

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville Hepatobiology and Toxicology Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) has received $11.3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support its research into liver-related illness for an additional five years.

The UofL Hepatobiology and Toxicology (H&T) Center was created in 2016 with an $11.5 million grant from the NIH to support unique research focused on liver injury and disease and toxicology.

The center supports leading-edge research conducted by junior investigators with mentorship from senior researchers, as well as pilot projects and core laboratory facilities that support research across the university. The researchers’ goal is to reduce the impact of many types of liver illness through the prevention and the development of therapies.

In its first five years, four of the funded junior investigators in the UofL H&T Center received independent NIH research funding, making way for a new cohort of project researchers. The renewal of COBRE funding encourages a continuous supply of researchers in specialized areas of medicine and the search for new disease treatments.

Current projects supported by the center include:

  • Yan Li, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Surgery, is investigating preventive strategies and possible mechanisms behind non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, a potential precursor of liver cancer.
  • Joshua L. Hood, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, is examining how very small membrane-bound compartments known as nanovesicles that are released by cancer cells influence immune function in liver cancer.
  • Ming Song, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, is studying the role of fructose consumption on the disruption of intestinal barrier function in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Smita Ghare, Ph.D., instructor in the Department of Medicine, is investigating how alcohol-induced changes in the liver contribute to liver inflammation and injury.

In addition to research, the center provides support for community health. During the epidemic of Hepatitis A and C in the last decade, center investigators helped create the Kentucky Hepatitis Academic Mentorship Program. This program helped to train more than 140 primary care providers in the diagnosis and treatment of Hepatitis C. Those diseases now are declining.

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