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Research Awards Program

Research is essential to ALF in improving, treating and finding a cure for liver disease

Since 1979, the Research Awards Program has provided more than $26 million in research funding. Over 850 qualified scientists and physicians have pursued careers in liver disease research and treatment as a result of receiving these grants early in their careers.

The American Liver Foundation is proud to support these research efforts and is hopeful that they will bring us closer to finding a cure for liver disease.

Contact us here for any questions about these research awards.

View 2019 Award Recipients Here

The 2020 ALF Research Awards Program

Application Deadline

Friday December 13, 2019
11:59 PM Eastern Time

Award Notifications

May 2020

Award Start Date

July 2020

Applications are reviewed by leaders in the field of hepatology. Scores are based on the scientific merit of the research proposal and commitment to a career in hepatology. The number of awards and fellowships granted is contingent on the number of qualified applicants and available funding.

The American Liver Foundation provides equal opportunity for all research and fellowship award applicants without regard to race, color, creed, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, marital status, mental or physical disability, pregnancy, military or veteran status, or any other basis prohibited by state or federal law.

Download the 2020 Request for Proposals

Naim Alkhouri, MD
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, hepatitis C infection, liver transplantation, pediatric liver disease

Jasmohan S. Bajaj, MD, MS, FACG, AGAF (co-chair)
Cirrhosis and complications

David N. Frick, PhD
Viral Hepatitis (Virology in General), Enzymology, Molecular Genetics, Structural Biology, and Genomics

Richard M. Green, MD
Cholestatic and fatty liver disease-clinical, cholestatic and fatty liver disease-basic science

Rohit Loomba, MD, MHSc (co-chair)
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, advanced imaging, steatosis and its effect of progression of liver disease

Pramod Mistry, MD, BS, FRCP, PhD
Metabolic liver disease (inherited and NAFLD); Liver transplantation; Pediatric liver diseases

Michael Porayko, MD, FAASLD
Cholestatic liver disease, viral hepatitis B and C, autoimmune hepatitis, acute liver failure, nutritional abnormalities of chronic liver disease and multiple complications of chronic liver failure including hepatorenal syndrome as well as liver transplantation related topics (e.g immunosuppression, complications, recurrent disease, allograft rejection)

Puneet Puri, MD
NAFLD, alcoholic liver disease, cirrhosis and its complications, nutrition in liver disease, lipidomics, metabolomics and microbiome related

Jayanta Roy-Chowdhury, MBBS, MRCP
Inherited disorders of the liver, stem cell differentiation, hepatocyte transplantation, liver-directed gene therapy

Li Wang, PhD
Broad expertise in various liver diseases, including fatty liver (non-alchol and alcohol), NASH, lipid metabolism, cholestasis, bile acid, liver fibrosis, liver cancer, non-coding RNA (microRNA and lncRNA) etc.

David Q.H. Wang, MD, PhD
Gallstones, Alcoholic fatty liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, cholestasis; hepatic bile acid and cholesterol metabolism, intestinal absorption of cholesterol and fatty acids.

Phillip Hylemon, PhD
Bile acid signaling in the liver and regulation of nutrient metabolism; human gut microbiome and GI/Liver diseases, cholangiocytes and cholangiocarcinoma

David E. Cohen, MD, PhD
Lipids, Lipoproteins, Bile Acids, Fatty Liver and Obesity

Ekihiro Seki, MD, PhD
Toll-like receptor and cytokine signaling, Liver fibrosis, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and alcoholic liver disease

Bernd Schnabl, MD
Basic hepatology research including liver fibrosis, NAFLD/NASH, ALD and microbiome

Rohit Kohli, MBBS, MS
Pediatric hepatology, NASH, transplant hepatology

Yaron Rotman, MD, MSc
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (clinical and basic), genetics, hepatitis C, interferon signaling

Theo Heller, MD
Liver disease, especially non cirrhotic portal hypertension, portal hypertension, viral hepatitis, ciliopathies, and translational aspects of all of these as well as an increasing interest in the microbiome and how it relates to liver disease

Kari N. Nejak-Bowen, MBA, PhD
Experimental cholestasis, liver regeneration (initiation, proliferation, termination), and the beta-catenin signaling pathway in liver physiology and pathobiology

Nancy S. Reau, MD
Liver Diseases (Hepatology) Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, Liver transplantation, Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, Primary liver cancer

Harmeet Malhi, MBBS
Liver injury (esp NASH), Macrophage mediated liver injury, Liver inflammation (NASH), Endoplasmic reticulum stress, Apoptosis, Extracellular vesicles

Natalie J. Torok, MD, MSc, AGAF
Liver fibrosis, NASH, oxidative stress, fibrosis treatment (trials), apoptosis, alcoholic liver disease

Amir Zarrinpar, MD, PhD
NAFLD/NASH, Obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, microbiome, microRNAs, bile acid signaling (FXR/TGR5), circadian rhythms, metabolism

Huiping Zhou, PhD
Bile acids and hepatic lipid metabolism, Sphingosine-1 phosphate and GPCR signaling, NAFLD/NASH, Cholestasis, Cholangiocarcinoma, ER stress, alcohol and drug-induced liver injury, Inflammation, bile acid metabolism and microbiome, alternative and complementary medicine

Wajahat Mehal, MD, DPhil
Immunology, inflammation, NASH, fibrosis

Ariel Feldstein, MD
NASH; liver fibrosis; basic mechanism of liver inflammation and injury; HCC

Don C. Rockey, MD
Basic, Fibrosis, Cirrhosis, Portal Hypertension, Vascular Biology, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Clinical, Cirrhosis, Drug induced liver injury, outcomes

Vipin Kumar, MS, PhD
CD8+ Treg/CD8+ suppressor cells, LPC-reactive type II NKT cells, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, anti-tumor immunity, ALD, NASH, type I and type II NKT cells

Laura E. Nagy, PhD
Alcoholic and non-alcoholic liver disease, innate immunity  and cell death

Chandrashekhar Gandhi, PhD, FAASLD
Liver fibrosis, Acute liver injury, Alcoholic and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, hepatic stellate cells.

Yury Popov, MD, PhD
Liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, fibrosis reversal, antifibrotic therapies, animal models, integrins, hepatic stellate cells, hepatic progenitor cells, cholangiocytes, collagens, cross-linking, extracellular matrix.

Keith D. Lindor, MD
Cholestatic liver diseases, particularly primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).

Hugo E. Vargas, MD
Management of HCV and HBV in Transplantation; Portal Hypertension Management; Alcoholic Liver Disease

Alan Mullen, MD, PhD
Liver fibrosis, chronic liver disease; viral hepatitis; abnormal liver function tests, NAFLD; noncoding RNA regulation of hepatic stellate cells

Kusum Kharbanda, Ph.D
Alcoholic Liver Disease

Shikha Sundaram, MD, MSCI
Pediatric liver disease, pediatric liver transplant and pediatric non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Are there any funding opportunities for pre-doctoral students at the American Liver Foundation?

Currently there are no funding opportunities for pre-doctoral students.


Must my project focus on basic science? Can I submit a project focused on clinical studies?

Either basic science or clinical studies are eligible for funding.


My fellowship program is 3 year program but my second and third years are dedicated to research training. I am currently in my 3rd year of the program. Does this make me ineligible for the Postdoctoral Award?

The amount of years of actual research training is counted, so you are still eligible.


One of our transplant doctors is interested in submitting for a Liver Scholar Award however his salary is already covered so he would like to hire a tech and purchase supplies instead of using the award solely for his salary support. Would that be acceptable?

No, the Liver Scholar Award must be used for salary support only.


Can I apply for both a Liver Scholar Award and a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Award?

No, you must apply for one or the other.


I am a faculty member but my job title is Postdoctoral Associate. Prior to this appointment, I was a post-doctoral fellow for 2 years. Am I still eligible for a Liver Scholar Award?

If you are a faculty member then you can apply. Clearly state in your commitment letter from your department chair that you have a faculty appointment.

Past ALF Award Program Recipients

Charles Trey, MD Memorial Liver Scholar Award

$75,000 annually/3 years; $225,000 total

Hien Dang, PhD
Thomas Jefferson University

Project: Genome-wide CRISPR/Cas9 screening for synthetic lethal targets in NELFE/MYC HCC
Mentor:  Jonathan Brody, PhD

Learn more about Dr. Dang and her research project…

American Liver Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Awards

$12,500 over 1 year

Biliary Atresia Fund for the Cure Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Award

Jessica Llewellyn, PhD
University of Pennsylvania

Project: Identification and characterization of fibrogenic cell of the extrahepatic bile duct
Mentor:  Rebecca G. Wells, MD

Learn more about Jessica and her research…

Hans Popper Memorial Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Omar Haque, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Project: Ex-Vivo Liver Graft Regeneration via Normothermic Machine Perfusion in a Two-Thirds Partial Hepatectomy Model
Mentors: Korkut Uygun, PhD & James F. Markmann, MD, PhD

Learn more about Dr. Omar Haque and his research…

Alexander M. White, III Memorial Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Award

Debanjali Dasgupta, PhD
Mayo Clinic, Rochester

Project: Hepatic IRE1alpha activation induces EV release, leading to hepatic injury
Mentor:  Harmeet Malhi, MBBS

Learn more about Debanjali and her research…

Irwin M. Arias, MD Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Taylor M. Coe, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital

Project: Role of IdeS in Depletion of IgG to Reduce Antibody Mediated Graft Damage in Non-Human Primate Liver Xenotransplantation
Mentor:  James F. Markmann, MD, PhD

Learn more about Dr. Coe and her research…

Research Award Recipients

American Liver Foundation Liver Scholar Award
$75,000 annually/3 years; $225,000 total

Xiaobo Wang, PhD
Columbia University

Project: “Regulation and Role of TAZ in NASH-Associated Hepatocellular Carcinoma”
Mentor: Ira A. Tabas, MD, PhD

Click more to learn more about Dr. Wang and his research project

American Liver Foundation PBC Fund for the Cure Award
100,000 over 1 year

Marina Silveira, MD
Yale University

Project: “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in the Treatment of Fatigue in Patients with PBC”

Click Here to learn more about Dr. Silveira and her research project

Weici Zhang, PhD
University of California, Davis

Project: “IGFBP4 Expression Licenses Macrophage Immune-Mediated Biliary Destruction in PBC”

Click here to learn more about Dr. Weici Zhang and her research project

American Liver Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Awards
12,500 over 1 year

Irwin M. Arias, MD Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Norihiro Imai, MD, PhD
Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University

Project: “Muscle-Specific Metabolic Regulation by Thioesterase Superfamily Member 2 (Them2) in the Pathogenesis of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease”
Mentor:  David E. Cohen, MD, PhD

Click here to learn more about Imai and his research

Hans Popper Memorial Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Aveline Filliol, PhD
The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York

Project: “Role of HSC and ECM in the Development of Hepatocellular Carcinoma”
Mentor: Robert F. Schwabe, MD

Click here to learn more about Dr. Aveline Filliol and her research

Sandra Steensels, PhD
Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University

Project: “Thioesterase-mediated Control of Hepatic Lipid and Glucose Homeostasis”
Mentor: Baran A. Ersoy, PhD

Click here to learn more about Dr. Steensels and her research

James Heslop, PhD
Medical University of South Carolina

Project: “The Role of GATA6 in Endoderm Formation and Hepatic Specification”
Mentor: Stephen A. Duncan

Click here to learn more about Dr. Heslop and his research

American Liver Foundation Liver Scholar Award
$75,000 annually/3 years; $225,000 total

Graham Brady, MD, PhD
University of Michigan

Role of the nuclear lamina in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Mentor: M. Bishr Omary, MD, PhD

American Liver Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship Research Award Winners
$12,500 over 1 year

Yongfeng Song, MD, PhD
University of Connecticut

ZEB1/EpCAM Axis in LncRNA H19-Mediated Cholestasis
Mentor: Li Wang, PhD

Mariana L. Acuña, PhD
Cornell University

ACOT12-Mediated Acetyl-CoA Degradation in the Pathogenesis of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Mentor: David E. Cohen, MD, PhD

Enis Kostallari, PhD
Mayo Clinic

PDGFR-alpha trafficking through hepatic stellate cell-derived extracellular vesicles
Mentor: Vijay H. Shah, MD

Paul J. Wrighton, PhD
Brigham and Women’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School

How Liver Stiffness Promotes Liver Cancer
Mentor: Wolfram Goessling, MD, PhD

Kazuki Takeshi, MD, PhD
University of Pittsburgh

Mass Production of iPS-derived Hepatocytes to engineer Autologous Liver Graft
Mentor: Alejandro Soto-Gutierrez, MD, PhD

Ruisi (Rose) Wang, PhD
The Rockefeller University

Novel stem cell approaches to explore hepatic stellate cell biology
Mentor: Charles M. Rice, PhD

Liuyi Hao, PhD
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

The role of ATF4 in alcoholic hepatitis
Mentor: Zhanxiang Zhou, PhD

Barent N. DuBois, PhD
Chapman University School of Pharmacy

Effect of acute-on-chronic liver failure on drug metabolism in the brain.
Mentor: Reza Mehvar, PharmD, PhD

Chun-Hao Huang, PhD
The Regents of the University of California, Berkeley

Understanding cellular immune response to viral translation during liver damage
Mentor: Jennifer A. Doudna, PhD

Wei Wang, MD
New York University School of Medicine

Role of gamma delta-T cells in the pathogenesis of NASH
Mentor: George Miller, MD

American Liver Foundation Liver Scholar Award
$75,000 annually/3 years; $225,000 total

Hepatitis Fund for the Cure Liver Scholar Award

Holly Ramage, PhD
University of Pennsylvania

Characterizing the Role of Host Cell Ubiquitylation Machinery in HCV Infection
Mentor: Sara R. Cherry, PhD

American Liver Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards
$12,000 over 1 year

NASH Fatty Liver Disease Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Michele Alves-Bezerra, PhD
Weill Cornell Medicine

Phospholipid-mediated control of hepatic insulin signaling
Mentor: David E. Cohen, MD, PhD

Herman Lopata Memorial Hepatitis Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Joshua A. Jackman, PhD
Stanford University School of Medicine

Engineering Platform for Deciphering Inositol-Binding Domains in Hepatitis C Virus
Mentor: Jeffrey S. Glenn, MD, PhD

Thomas E. Starzl, MD Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Negin Karimian, MD, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School

A Novel Approach to Improve Organ Viability and Availability before Orthotopic Liver Transplantation
Mentor: Korkut Uygun, PhD

Charles Trey, MD Memorial Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Chad M. Walesky, PhD
Brigham and Women’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School

A Balancing Act: Role of HNF4α/β-catenin in Hepatobiliary Development and Cholangiocarcinoma Formation
Mentor:  Wolfram Goessling, MD, PhD

Hans Popper Memorial Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Ju Dong Yang, MD
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine

Detection of Actionable or Predictive Tumor DNA Mutations in Peripheral Blood (Liquid Biopsy) from Patients with Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA)
Mentor:  Lewis R. Roberts, PhD

Irwin M. Arias, MD Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Janice E. Yang, PhD
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

The role of hyaluronan synthase-2 in the pathogenesis of Liver Fibrosis
Mentor:  Ekihiro Seki, MD, PhD

Thomas F. Nealon, III Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Honoring Zachary Rue

Anna L. Peters, MD, PhD
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Control of cholangiocyte proliferation by innate lymphoid cells
Mentor:  Jorge A. Bezerra, MD

Congressman John Joseph Moakley Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Regina Español-Suñer, PhD
University of California, San Francisco

In vivo reprogramming of scar tissue into hepatocytes as a therapy for liver fibrosis
Mentor:  Holger Willenbring, MD, PhD

PSC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Ana Catalina Arce-Clachar, MD
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

The role of TGR5 signaling in the pathogenesis of murine fibrosing cholangitis and its response to pharmacological inhibition of intestinal bile acid reuptake
Mentor:  Alexander Miethke, MD

Roger L. Jenkins, MD Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

Stephanie A. Kingman, MD
The Regents of the University of California, Los Angeles

Gene Therapy-Corrected Autologous Hepatocyte-Like Cells from Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells For the Treatment of Pediatric Single Enzyme Disorders
Mentor:  Gerald S. Lipshutz, MD

The 2019 ALF Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award Program

Application Deadline

August 16, 2019
11:59 PM Eastern Time

The Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award is a prestigious award honoring a scientist who has made a major contribution to liver disease research in basic science or in its application towards the prevention, treatment or cure of liver disease.

Download the 2019 Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award Nomination Form

Michael Houghton, PhD

We’re proud to announce that Dr. Michael Houghton, Ph.D. was named the 2018 recipient of the American Liver Foundation’s most prestigious recognition, the Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award.  This Award was presented to him during the recent AASLD “Liver Meeting” in San Francisco.

Working with Qui-Lim Choo and George Kuo at the Chiron corporation and Daniel Bradley at the CDC, Dr. Houghton identified and characterized the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in 1989 and then developed blood tests that eradicated transfusion-associated HCV infection shortly afterwards.

Along with Kangsheng Wang, Qui-Lim Choo and Amy Weiner at Chiron along with John Gerin at the NIH, Dr. Houghton identified the genome of the hepatitis D (delta) virus (HDV) in 1986 and then developed HDV blood tests.

After contributing to identifying key enzymatic steps in the HCV life-cycle during the 1990’s, his team developed a HCV vaccine candidate of proven efficacy in non-human primates which was successfully tested in phase 1 clinical trials. This HCV vaccine development now continues at the University of Alberta where Dr. Houghton is a Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology and where he directs the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute.

Recently, along with Amir Landi, he has also discovered new blood biomarkers of autoimmune hepatitis of clinical diagnostic utility.

It is a great pleasure to recognize Dr. Houghton and his colleagues for their important contributions to the fight against liver disease, which has saved countless lives.

Michael Houghton, PhD
Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute, University of Alberta

Arun Sanyal, MD
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine

Scott L. Friedman, MD

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Anna Suk-Fong Lok, MD

University of Michigan Health System

Raymond Schinazi, PhD, DSc

Emory University, Center for AIDS Research

Charles M. Rice, PhD

The Rockefeller University

Allan W. Wolkoff, MD

Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Robert H. Purcell, MD

National Institutes of Health

George K. Michalopoulos, MD, PhD

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Snorri S. Thorgeisson, MD, PhD

National Cancer Institute

Neil Kaplowitz, MD

University of Southern California School of Medicine

Roberto J. Groszmann, MD

West Haven VA Medical Center

Nelson Fausto, MD

University of Washington School of Medicine

Harvey J. Alter, MD

National Institutes of Health

Nancy L. Bucher, MD

Boston University School of Medicine

David A. Shafritz, MD

Albert Einstein College of Medicine

James L. Boyer, MD

Yale University

Irwin M. Arias, MD

Tufts University School of Medicine

Francis V. Chisari, MD

The Scripps Research Institute

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