Program Summary

Specific Aims of the Center

  1. To provide the essential services offered by biomedical Core facilities to facilitate the research of the membership to advance our understanding of the pathogenesis and treatment of liver and digestive disease.
  2. To foster collaboration between Center members through the use of Cores, the Enrichment Program, and Special Interest Groups (SIG).
  3. To foster career development through availability of scientific Cores, Enrichment Program, and Pilot/Feasibility support and attract the talents of established investigators from other fields to apply their expertise to liver and digestive disease research and to collaborate with Center members.
  4. Facilitate the technological training and scientific development of postdoctoral fellows, K awardees and junior faculty through the services of the Cores, the Enrichment Program and Pilot/Feasibility funding.


The Center’s membership and activities have led to thematic organization of a Research Base devoted to Liver Disease with four major Themes:

  1. Viral hepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma
  2. Steatohepatitis and fibrosis
  3. Liver injury (hepatotoxicity and mitochondrial pathobiology)
  4. Repair, regenerative medicine, and developmental biology

Scientific Cores

  1. Cell Separation and Culture (CSC) Core: Director, Bangyan Stiles, Ph.D. ( Associate Director, Zhang-Xu Liu, M.D., Ph.D. ( This Core has recently been expanded from a longstanding Central Core, which has been providing primary hepatocyte cultures of normal and diseased mice and rats and various cell lines to a wide range of investigators, by addition of a Cell Separation subcore, to perform FACS analysis and magnetic cell sorting/isolation. Under the new leadership of Dr. Stiles the Core is to provide isolation of liver progenitor cells, culture of iPS cells and generation of Cas9 liver cell lines.
  2. Cell and Tissue Imaging (CTI) Core: Director, Sarah Hamm-Alvarez. Ph.D. ( This critical Core was recently separated from its predecessor core and reorganized. It provides critical instrumentation (confocal and fluorescence microscopy) and technical support for cell biology and pathophysiology studies.  In addition, the Core’s services are to be expanded upon renewal of the Center grant with support of the Keck School of Medicine to provide access to three other advanced and cutting-edge microscopy facilities at Health Sciences and University Park campuses.
  3. Liver Histology (LH) Core: Director, Gary C. Kanel, M.D. ( This Core was also recently separated from its predecessor core and reorganized. It provides a wide range of standard and customized slide preparation, liver histochemistry and immunohistochemistry. Additionally, it offers state-of-the-are laser-capture microscopy resources and instrumentation, along with expert technical support. Dr. Kanel provides expert consultation in interpretation of findings, collaborations and technical oversight.
  4. Analytic, Metabolic, Instrumentation (AMI) Core / Proteomics Subcore: Director, Murad Ookhtens, Ph.D. (, Associate Director, Ebrahim Zandi, Ph.D. ( This Core is composed of a Central Core, Directed by Dr. Ookhtens, which maintains and offers training and access to a large base of major and expensive equipment for shared use, including RT-PCR systems, plate readers, infrared imaging, ultra- and high-speed centrifuges, Seahorse Flux analyzer, plus a versatile multi-detection HPLC system, equipped with PDA, fluorescence, electrochemical and radioactivity detectors, supporting a diverse menu of analytical and preparative applications. Dr. Zandi directs the Proteomics Subcore, supported under the Proteomics Core of Keck School of Medicine, which he directs. See:

Pilot/Feasibility (P/F) Project Program

Director Laurie DeLeve, MD, PhD ( P/F Project Program is a magnet that pulls investigators into the Liver Center and has helped sustain a robust cadre of investigators in the Liver Center over the last 20 years. The emphasis has been to fund young investigators, who are more likely to stay in digestive disease research if their P/F Project is successful. The research potential of P/F Project holders is markedly enhanced by the core facilities of the Liver Center, which enable investigators to utilize research methodology that would otherwise be unavailable or unaffordable, and an Enrichment Program that has promoted numerous collaborations.

Enrichment Program

Director Andrew Stolz, MD, ( The RCLD conducts a well-established and highly successful Enrichment Program through its seminar series, annual symposia and meetings of Special Interest Groups (SIG) of our Themes. We closely interact with the Southern California Research Center for Alcoholic Liver and Pancreatic Disease (ALPD), sharing a seminar time slot with each conducting complementary annual symposia in the spring and winter. The Enrichment Program is of great benefit to our senior and junior faculty members and the many postdoctoral fellows and graduate students who work with members as well as the entire University community. Recent changes in the Enrichment Program are aimed at the research progress of junior faculty, allowing for more interactions with trainees during biannual poster sessions and strengthened interactions within our SIG programs by offering twice yearly minisymposium/workshops geared to specific areas of research interests.