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Liver Center Retreat Highlights Breadth of Liver Research at Yale

September 19, 2023
by Serena Crawford

The Yale Liver Center held its annual retreat at the Water’s Edge Resort and Spa, in Westbrook, Conn., on September 10, 2023.

Topics discussed at the event included important resources for Yale Liver Center members including the new academic unit Biomedical Informatics and Data Science and the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, cutting-edge liver research at Yale in metabolism and in immunobiology, and the projects undertaken by junior faculty and postdoctoral fellows through the center’s pilot grant program and institutional liver training grant.

There were over 100 registrants and 30 poster presentations at the event, according to Michael H. Nathanson, MD, PhD, director of the Yale Liver Center and Gladys Crofoot Professor of Medicine (Digestive Diseases) and professor of cell biology, who added that on-site daycare was provided to maximize the ability of individuals to attend the retreat.

A new feature of the event this year was a session that focused on the accomplishments of disease-aligned research teams, said Mario Strazzabosco, MD, PhD, professor of medicine (digestive diseases), co-director of the Yale Liver Center, and organizer of the retreat. “These 10 teams exploit new discoveries and innovations to advance the care of patients with complex liver conditions and sustain destination programs able to provide highly differentiated world class care,” he said. “What was evident was the richness of the research, the large number of patients treated, and the ability to cover many of the unmet needs of patients with liver disease—the tripartite mission of an academic medical center and school realized at his best.”

Strazzabosco noted the participation of members from a variety of departments, both clinical and basic, which illustrates the interdisciplinary breadth of liver research at Yale.

The retreat helped raise awareness about recent scientific advances that resulted from Liver Center initiatives, said Guadalupe Garcia-Tsao, MD, FRCP, professor of medicine (digestive diseases), who led a session on Liver Center core offerings. “It also made participants more aware of what everybody else is doing within the Liver Center and—perhaps more importantly—outside of the Liver Center,” she said.

The occasion is a forum for people with different interests and backgrounds to share ideas and information, added Catherine Mezzacappa, MD, MPH, clinical fellow in the Section of Digestive Diseases, who presented at the event. “For example, I’m interested in the interactions between metabolism and serious liver diseases, and I learned a great deal from Gerald Shulman, MD, PhD, who spoke about peripheral insulin resistance and how this can be modified,” she said. “This kind of sharing across disciplines generates new questions and opportunities.”

A main highlight of the event was the keynote lecture given by Nancy J. Brown, MD, Jean and David W. Wallace Dean of the Yale School of Medicine and C.N.H. Long Professor of Internal Medicine, who spoke about strategic planning for discovery and the ways Liver Center members can participate in many new initiatives at the school level.

Nathanson hopes the retreat allowed participants to network with colleagues and improve their understanding of current resources at Yale to support their research. “The annual event is a wonderful opportunity to further enhance the already extensive degree of collaborations among our membership and beyond,” he said.

The Yale Liver Center's mission is to enhance knowledge of the etiology, diagnosis and treatment of liver diseases and other related disorders of the digestive system, thereby advancing the nation's public health. It does so by simulating both basic and clinical research in this discipline at the university and by establishing core research facilities for use by multiple investigators. To learn more, visit the Yale Liver Center.

Submitted by Serena Crawford on September 18, 2023