A tree with yellow leaves in front of a VCU building
The Institute for Liver Disease and Metabolic Health's inaugural symposium will bring renowned researchers from around the world to discuss insights and innovations on how to better prevent, diagnose, and treat patients with liver disease. (University Marketing)

VCU Institute for Liver Disease and Metabolic Health will hold first academic symposium on Oct. 13-14

The sessions will celebrate advancements in liver-related research, including a keynote lecture from Nobel Prize laureate Michael Houghton on the conquest of the hepatitis C virus.

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The Stravitz-Sanyal Institute for Liver Disease and Metabolic Health at Virginia Commonwealth University will host its Inaugural Academic Symposium on Oct. 13-14 to reflect on the history of hepatology at the university, celebrate current progress in liver-related research and look to the future. The symposium will convene leading experts in liver disease and metabolic health for two days of scientific sessions with a strong emphasis on translational research, team science, public-private collaboration and development of novel paradigms of care.

Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis were among the top 5 drivers for declining life expectancy in the U.S. last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet, federally approved treatments for many liver diseases, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), are nonexistent or sparse. The only option for many patients with end-stage liver disease is a transplant, but demand greatly exceeds supply.

“Our institute’s inaugural academic symposium will bring renowned researchers and collaborators from around the world to discuss insights and innovations on how we can better prevent, diagnose and treat patients with liver-related disease,” said Arun Sanyal, M.D., director of the Stravitz-Sanyal Institute for Liver Disease and Metabolic Health and professor in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition in the VCU School of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine. “This is an exciting opportunity for the scientific community to come together with the shared goal of finding cutting-edge solutions for improving the lives of our patients.”

The scientific sessions will kick off with a keynote lecture from Sir Michael Houghton, Hon. D.Sc., Ph.D., director of Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute at the University of Alberta and co-recipient of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of the hepatitis C virus.

The symposium will then feature more than 15 speakers from the United States, England, India, Singapore and Mexico. Looking at liver health from a global perspective, topics range from end-stage liver disease to managing NASH, an aggressive form of fatty liver disease, which is marked by liver inflammation and may progress to advanced scarring (cirrhosis) and liver failure.

In December 2021, VCU announced its plan to establish an institute for liver disease and metabolic health, building on the successful legacy of its hepatology and liver transplant programs with the goal of becoming a global leader in liver-related research and metabolically driven disorders. Supported by a $104 million gift in February 2022, the largest publicly shared donation for liver research in U.S. history, the Stravitz-Sanyal Institute for Liver Disease and Metabolic Health will drive scientific discoveries in clinical care and develop new treatments and diagnostics for patients with liver disease.

The symposium will be held in person at the VCU University Student Commons Commonwealth Ballroom, located at 907 Floyd Ave. in Richmond, Virginia. A complete schedule of symposium events is available on the Stravitz-Sanyal Institute for Liver Disease and Metabolic Health website. For those who are not able to join the event in person, all symposium sessions will be streamed live online.

Media interested in attending the event should contact Olivia Trani at tranio@vcu.edu.