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Liver Center

Saint Louis University School of Medicine

Saint Louis University School of Medicine

The Saint Louis University Liver Center was designated a center of excellence in December 2001 with institutional monies derived from the SLU2000 Center of Excellence Award. 

The Saint Louis University Liver Center was designated a center of excellence in December 2001 with institutional monies derived from the SLU2000 Center of Excellence Award. The Liver Center enjoys worldwide recognition as a center of excellence for research and treatment of liver diseases and liver cancer. The Liver Center is committed to excellence in quality care, basic and clinical research and medical and public education. Designation as a center of excellence brings together all the clinical and research resources of Saint Louis University and Saint Louis University Hospital to help diagnose, treat, cure and educate the public about liver diseases.

Providing national leadership in the field of hepatology, the Liver Center is staffed by some of the highest-profile doctors and research scientists in the nation. Many are named in the Best Doctors, Inc. database, an independent medical reference service. The liver specialists in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology see more than 1,200 patients per month with various types of liver diseases. These physicians have one of the world’s largest hepatitis C practices in the world, treating more than 2,000 patients annually. One of the Liver Center’s better-known patients is Grammy-winning recording artist, Naomi Judd of the popular country duo, “The Judds”, who after diagnosis with hepatitis C, was given just three years to live. Naomi Judd now credits the Liver Center’s co-director, Dr. Bruce R. Bacon and his team for saving her life.

Our Mission

The mission of the Saint Louis University Liver Center is to study liver disease and apply new technologies discovered by basic research to the medical care of patients with liver disease. Through this mission the Saint Louis University Liver Center encourages and supports important biomedical research into liver disease; addressing major local, national and international needs, through a cohesive group of researchers from different disciplines involved in liver research.

Objectives

  •  To apply new technologies discovered by basic research to the medical care of patients with liver disease.
  • To form a cohesive group of investigators from different disciplines involved in liver research.
  • To enhance national and international recognition of the faculty in the Saint Louis University Liver Center involved in the practice of hepatology and in both basic and clinical research in liver biology and pathology.
  • To enhance funding for liver research at Saint Louis University.
Directors of the Liver Center
Liver Center Directors

Bruce R. Bacon, M.D. and Adrian M. DiBisceglie, M.D.

Bruce R. Bacon, M.D. and Adrian M. DiBisceglie, M.D., are Co-Directors of the Saint Louis University Liver Center. Bruce R. Bacon, M.D. joined the faculty of Saint Louis University School of Medicine as Director of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in 1990. An internationally recognized hepatologist, Bruce R. Bacon, M.D. was brought to Saint Louis University School of Medicine to create a top ranked gastroenterology and hepatology program. In 1994, Bruce R. Bacon, M.D. was joined by Adrian M. Di Bisceglie, M.D., a prominent hepatologist from the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Together, they envisioned a liver center committed to excellence in quality patient care, basic and clinical research and medical and public education.

Since 1994, Bruce R.Bacon, M.D. and  Adrian M. Di Bisceglie, M.D. have worked toward this vision. Outpatient encounters in liver disease has increased to approximately 1,200 per month. Research funding is currently over $2.2 million dollars per year. In December of 2001, the Liver Center was designated as a Center of Excellence by Saint Louis University. That designation brought together investigators and clinicians from other University departments to create the synergy necessary to help improve both the understanding and the treatment of liver disease. Approximately 39 specialists from 11 departments and divisions of the University work together to maintain the work and mission of the Saint Louis University Liver Center.

Liver Center Faculty
  • Eyad Alsabbagh, M.D.
  • Bruce R. Bacon, M.D.
  • Angel Baldan, Ph.D.
  • Adrian M. Di Bisceglie, M.D.
  • Lou Ann Biermann, RN, MSN
  • Alex S. Befeler, M.D.
  • Jeffery J. Brown, M.D., FACR
  • Thomas E. Burroughs, Ph.D.
  • Anping Chen, Ph.D.
  • Susan E. Crawford, D.O.
  • Maureen Donlin, Ph.D.
  • Robert E. Fleming, M.D.
  • Xiaofeng Fan, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Sameer Gadani, M.D.
  • Sarah L. George, M.D.
  • Danielle H. Carpenter, M.D.
  • Jung San Huang, Ph.D.
  • Ajay Jain, M.D.
  • Nisha Mangalat, M.D.
  • Mustafa D. Nazzal, M.D.
  • Keith Pereria, M.D.
  • Henry B. Randall, M.D., FACS
  • Nancy J. Phillips, M.D.
  • Nishant Poddard, M.D.
  • Ranjit Ray, Ph.D.
  • Ratna B Ray, Ph.D.
  • John M. Richart, M.D.
  • Mark A. Schnitzler, Ph.D.
  • Dorota Skowyra, Ph.D.
  • William S. Sly, M.D.
  • Harvey Solomon, M.D.
  • John E. Travis, Ph.D.
  • Jeffery Teckman, M.D.
  • Brent A. Tetri, M.D.
  • Barbara Ulmasov, Ph.D.
  • Kirubahara Vaheesan, M.D.
  • Chintalapati Rathna Varma, M.D.
  • Abdul Waheed, Ph.D.
  • William S. Wold, Ph.D.
Patient Services

Outpatient services are usually provided in Suites 302 and 308 of the Doctors Office Building at 3660 Vista Avenue. The Liver Center’s strength lies in evaluating and managing patients with all types of liver disease ranging from simple to complex. Our physicians strive to provide the most accurate, timely and cost-effective evaluation of patients with liver enzyme abnormalities and known liver disease, or those with complications of cirrhosis

Percutaneous liver biopsy is usually essential for the evaluation of patients with any type of liver disease. Our extensive experience in outpatient liver biopsy allows for safe and cost-effective testing, and our close working relationships with expert hepatic pathologists ensures an accurate diagnosis.

Our expertise in diagnosing and treating liver disease range from the evaluation of trivial enzyme abnormalities due to fatty liver to the management of severe, complicated, end-stage liver disease in patients awaiting liver transplantation. Ongoing clinical research activities allow patients to be included in protocols evaluating various new therapies for treatment of liver diseases. Many patients can receive the latest forms of therapy free of charge with the support of a pharmaceutical industry-sponsored study.

Through Saint Louis University Hospital, the Liver Center’s transplantation service is approved by UNOS, certified by Medicare and designated a center of excellence by several major insurance providers. Recognizing that continuity of pre- and postoperative care is just as essential to successful outcomes as the actual surgery, a multidisciplinary team is dedicated to providing the full spectrum of care. Our hepatologists work closely with the liver transplant surgeons and the pre- and post-transplant coordinators to develop an individualized plan for each patient. The goal of the Liver Center is to provide patients with efficient and cost-effective care from evaluation to post-transplant.

Liver Center Seed Grant Program

Members of the Liver Center met on April 20, 2005 to discuss the use of funds raised by the Friends of the Saint Louis University Liver Center for research. It was decided to put a Liver Center Request for Application (RFA) process in place for research seed and bridge grants. These directed research grants were established to provide seed and bridge funding to Liver Center investigators while they work toward developing their projects, gathering preliminary data, allowing them to submit NIH grant applications and publish their results. Certain priorities and goals were set by this group:

1. Research projects that were likely to lead to future NIH funding would be given priority.

2. Special consideration should be given to efforts that involve collaborative studies between different laboratories or different researchers.

3. Projects that have the ultimate goal of submitting a program project grant or center grant.

4. Research in certain diseases would be prioritized, including viral hepatitis, liver cancer, fatty liver disease, iron metabolism, and possibly liver transplantation.

Request for Applications: It was decided to solicit applications for research funds from members of the Liver Center. No amount would be specified. The format for initial proposals would be no more than a single page, indicating the principal investigator, aims, hypotheses and planned research methods. In addition to this, a very brief and simple budget should be provided, indicating the total amount for personnel, supplies and equipment.

The group agreed on the following members of the Review Committee for the first round of applications: Drs. Sly, Di Bisceglie, Tavis, Bode and Brunt.

Since the initiation of the Liver Center RFA process, 38 grants have been awarded that total $1,002,482. These seed/bridge funds have generated 22 NIH, VA and foundation awards totaling more than $20 million, which represents a 18.9 fold return on investment. This is a true testament of the success the Saint Louis Liver Center has accomplished since its establishment.

“The SLULC seed grant that I received in 2005 led to my NIH U01 for the Viral Hepatitis C project. This really highlights the role that the Liver Center has played in my career. Without the Liver Center and Adrian Di Bisceglie’s clinical expertise, I would not have had a chance at either of these awards”. (John Tavis, PhD – Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology)

Additionally, the Saint Louis University Liver Center has been able to purchase $125,000 in state of the art equipment to support both clinical and basic science research efforts of our investigators.

Funding

In addition to its seed funding by Saint Louis University and substantial external funding, research programs within the Liver Center have been assisted with funding for more than a decade now by The Friends of the Saint Louis University Liver Center, an independent 501C3 charitable organization whose mission is to raise funds for liver research at Saint Louis University.

Since 2002, the Friends organization has presented the Saint Louis University Liver Center with more than $3.4 million in donated funds. All of the money raised by the Friends organization stays in our region to support local, life-saving research and patient treatment at Saint Louis University Liver Center. To learn more about the Friends of the Saint Louis University Liver Center, please contact their office at 314-576-3078 or visit their web site.

Friends of the Liver Center