VCU to create Institute for Liver Disease and Metabolic Health
The institute will make VCU a global leader in research and education about liver diseases and metabolically driven disorders and in the care for patients with these conditions. It will be led by Arun Sanyal, M.D., a researcher and liver disease specialist at VCU Health and a professor in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition in the VCU School of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine.
“I am humbled and deeply honored by the opportunity to lead the Institute for Liver Disease and Metabolic Health,” Sanyal said. “It is an exceptional opportunity to tackle real-life problems over the entire course of liver disease — from early stages to liver transplantation — with the goal of improving health for us and for future generations based on cutting-edge research. I look forward to working with all stakeholders to make this vision a reality.”
Under Sanyal’s leadership, the institute will create an environment that fosters scientific inquiry, scholarship and innovation to meet both current and future health challenges, said Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health.
“I’m pleased that this new institute’s activities will combine our missions of research, education and clinical care,” Rao said. “This is an example of innovative transformation that will enhance collaboration between multiple schools within VCU and support the professional development of the next generation of investigators.”
The institute will strengthen existing programs that span translational science and develop the infrastructure to support precision medicine approaches. It will feature a strong focus on translating the benefits of basic research to patients to help improve the prevention, early detection and treatment of liver diseases, said Art Kellermann, M.D., senior vice president for VCU Health Sciences and CEO of VCU Health.
“By bolstering collaborations with neurosciences, cardiology, critical care, renal disease, infectious disease, endocrinology, psychology, addiction medicine and transplant sciences, the institute will promote research that explores multifaceted aspects of liver disease and its interconnectedness to health, recovery and well-being,” Kellermann said.
It will also further VCU’s ability to care for patients and their families with liver disease and metabolic disorders, said Patricia Sime, M.D., chair of the Department of Internal Medicine.
“The cutting-edge translational research fostered by the institute will enable us to develop new diagnostics, therapies and preventative strategies to relieve the tremendous burden of liver and metabolic disease globally,” Sime said. “The power of a multidisciplinary team is tremendous, and I am grateful to Dr. Sanyal for his leadership and to our many colleagues across multiple departments for their collaborative approach to delivering top-notch patient care, education and scholarship.”
“Dr. Sanyal has shown remarkable leadership as pioneer in developing management for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome in his three decades on the faculty of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition,” said Peter F. Buckley, M.D., dean of VCU’s School of Medicine.
Sanyal’s research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1995 with about $20 million in total awards. He was selected as one of Virginia’s outstanding scientists in 2018.
“Dr. Sanyal is an extremely productive clinician-researcher who is ranked in the top 0.1 percentile of all investigators in medicine based on impact on science,” said P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D., VCU’s vice president for research and innovation. “Dr. Sanyal has trained an entire generation of liver specialists, and he is known for being tremendously supportive as a mentor, maintaining close collaborations all across the globe. Additionally, Dr. Sanyal’s leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic has enabled VCU to be at the forefront of drug development in the global effort to stop the spread of this disease.”
Sanyal has served as past president of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, founding member of the American Board of Internal Medicine Transplant Hepatology Board and founder of the Liver Forum, which brings the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency together with academia and industry to facilitate drug development.
“Arun [Sanyal] has been a trusted colleague and friend since I arrived at VCU almost 13 years ago,” Michael Rao said. “I am really pleased for him and proud of the work he has accomplished so far. I know the best is yet to come.”