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2019 Recipients

Designated Liver Transplant Research Grant in Canada

Improving prediction of patient outcomes before, during and after receiving a liver transplant through analysis of muscle mass.

Dr. Aldo Montano-Loza
University of Alberta
Co-Applicants: Dr. Vera Mazurak, Dr. Maryam Ebadi

Patients with cirrhosis often experience muscle loss. This and other muscle abnormalities are associated with a higher risk of problems like infections, longer recovery time after surgery and higher probability of death before and after receiving a liver transplant.

Dr. Montano-Loza and his team are aiming to understand the relationship between muscle abnormalities and the potential adverse outcomes before, during and after liver transplantation. Muscle amount and condition will be assessed using computed tomography in patients with cirrhosis listed for liver transplantation.

This research will help pave the way for better individualized assessment of each patient and ultimately, help find customized treatment strategies that could improve transplant success rates and the patients’ quality of life.

“Liver transplants are lifesaving procedures, but they still come with many risks and complications,” says Dr. Montano-Loza. “With the help of funding from the CLF and its donors, we hope to make more liver transplants successful in both the short and long-term.”

Groundbreaking liver research, much like the project underway by Dr. Aldo Montano-Loza and his team, is made possible through funding provided by kind donors looking to help advance liver research and provide hope for the millions of Canadians affected by liver disease.

Designated Liver Cancer Research Grant in Canada

Exploring the Role of a Well-Known Breast Cancer Gene (BRCA1) in Relation to Fatty Liver Disease and Liver Cancer.

Dr. Minna Woo
Toronto General Hospital Research Institute
Co-Applicant: Dr. Yoo Jin Park​

Liver cancer currently represents the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Although obesity has been identified as a risk factor for liver cancer, the exact mechanisms underlying liver cancer still remain unclear.

Recent research has shown that well-known breast cancer susceptibility gene 1 (BRCA1) may have an impact in the body’s metabolism. Dr. Woo and her team have compelling preliminary information that suggests BRCA1 may play a critical role in the development of fatty liver and liver cancer.

Dr. Woo’s promising research project will clarify their understanding of how fatty liver can worsen and potentially lead to liver cancer. In turn, this will help them find new treatments for this devastating disease with no cure to date.

“An emerging leading cause of liver cancer is fatty liver disease. Thanks to the funding and support we received from the CLF, we are pursuing research to investigate new treatment methods to conquer fatty liver disease and liver cancer.”

Donations received from caring Canadians and community-minded companies help scientists like Dr. Mina Woo potentially discover new treatments for the benefit of the millions of Canadians affected by liver disease. 

Raj Bhargava Memorial Summer Studentship

Developing Pivotal New Features For A Smartphone App Used To Analyze MRI Images Of Metabolic Liver Diseases.

Noah Gergel
University of Alberta
Supervisor: Dr. Ravi Bhargava

In 2018, with the help of funding received from the CLF, computer engineering student Kyle Hennig designed a smartphone app to help interpret MRI results of metabolic liver diseases; as a result, a wide range of specialists like radiologists, pediatricians, gastroenterologists, surgeons and neurologists were more easily able to diagnose metabolic liver diseases in children.

This year, computing science student Noah Gergel is working to expand and update this app by improving its accuracy, refining design elements to allow for easy use by non-expert physicians and incorporating recently published research and new diseases. Used worldwide, this app will continue to ensure that specialists are more likely to make a correct diagnosis, thus improving patient care.

“As a full-time student, the funding from the CLF proved to be invaluable in bringing my research project to life. It enabled me to work on the project full time over the summer so I could improve and build upon the app as much as possible. Thanks to the CLF, I can help ensure new and improved technology is available to liver specialists for better patient care.”

Funding young and ambitious students with a keen interest in liver science and technology helps create a brighter future for Canadians with liver disease. As demonstrated by both Noah and Kyle, donations received from kind-hearted Canadians are truly bringing liver research to life.