Physicians Hall Front

MCW researchers receive $2.1 million grant to study abnormal lipid accumulation causing liver disease

Milwaukee, June 19, 2017 – The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) received a five-year, $2.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases to investigate the accumulation of lipids in liver cells leading to hepatic steatosis, a liver disease that is increasingly common in the United States.

The study’s principal investigator is Qing Robert Miao, PhD, associate professor of pediatric surgery and pediatric pathology at MCW. The extended research team includes Michael Thomas, PhD, professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology; Roy Silverstein, MD, PhD, professor and chair of medicine in the Division of Hematology and Oncology; and Rebekah Gundry, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry.

Hepatic steatosis is the most common emerging liver disease in the United States and is caused by an abnormal accumulation of lipids within liver cells, specifically fatty acids and triglycerides.

Past research findings from Miao’s lab have suggested the important role Nogo-B receptor (NgBR) plays in the accumulation of lipids in liver cells. The overall objectives of this proposed study are to explain the molecular mechanisms by which NgBR contributes to the development of hepatic steatosis and thus develop new therapeutic strategies for reducing and/or preventing the disease.

If successful, this research project will be the first to show how NgBR signaling regulates the molecular mechanisms driving hepatic steatosis. This study will potentially pave the way for new discoveries that would greatly improve the health of those suffering from this prevalent liver disease.

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