Research and Clinical Trials

Through research, important advances in the treatment of liver disease continue to emerge. Clinical trials of innovative therapies designed to halt the progression of reverse liver injury are currently underway. Our current research is focused on:

  • Molecular imaging to refine estimates of liver function
  • Fatty liver and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (see
  • Patient-centered outcomes research in liver disease
  • Epidemiology of liver disease
  • Advances in viral hepatitis screening and treatment
  • Second generation antivirals and interferon-free regimens for hepatitis C
  • New surgical techniques for resection of cancerous liver
  • Bioartificial livers as a bridge for patients prior to liver transplantation
  • The role of proteins and genes in liver malignancies
  • Refinement of immunosuppression therapy to halt the recurrence and severity of hepatitis C after liver transplantation
  • Effects of chronic liver diseases on emotional, social and cognitive functioning
  • New therapies for hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Complementary and alternative medicine for liver disease
  • Hepatic encephalopathy

Read more about research at the Center for Transplantation at UC San Diego Health System.

Current Research Projects

Research study participation is voluntary. If patients decide to be in a study and then change their mind, they can leave the study at any time. Refusal to participate in a research study will never result in a penalty or a loss of benefits to which patients would otherwise be entitled. For questions related to the following research projects, please contact clinical research coordinator Natali Navarro, CCRC at 619-471-3922.


Liver Hepatology Research Biorepository

The UC San Diego Hepatology Research Biorepository serves the San Diego community by providing channels for the procurement, storage, distribution and study of human tissues and blood specimens. Participants donate a small amount of blood through draws ordered for medical care. Patients can also donate urine, ascites and/or leftover tissue from a biopsy or surgery that’s usually discarded or destroyed because it is not needed for care.

Principal investigator: Alexander Kuo, MD

STOPSC Biobank Genetic Consortium

STOPSC is a multicenter, joint effort among units in the United States and Canada to collect and study information required to understand the possible causes and treatment of Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) and Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH) as well as the effects of the disease on the liver over time. The major goal of this study is to create a large database that can be used for better understanding of the disease, to help develop better ways to detect the disease, to find out how effective current treatments are, and to conduct more research studies in the future. Participants provide a one-time blood sample through draws ordered for medical care.

Principal investigator: Alexander Kuo, MD


Unlike controlled clinical trials, this study looks at all types of patients being treated for HCV in the “real world.” None of the procedures that are regularly done in order to treat and monitor chronic HCV are changed by this observational study. The registry is open to patients who are undergoing treatment for HCV at UCSD.

Principal investigator: Alexander Kuo, MD

Infections and other Complications of Cirrhosis

The purpose of this research study is to find out how we can improve the survival of patients with cirrhosis who are admitted to the hospital with complications from liver disease. Extensive information through comprehensive chart review yields data that can be analyzed in a national database. Participants are recruited directly during their hospitalization.

Principal investigator: Heather Patton, MD


Efficacy and Safety of Rifaximin Soluble Solid Dispersion (SSD) Tablets for the Prevention of Complications in Subjects with Early Decompensated Liver Cirrhosis

This is a randomized, multicenter placebo controlled clinical trial looking at experimental dosage forms of rifaximin. The purpose of this research study to test if taking the study drug can prevent or delay the complications of cirrhosis. This study will test several different forms of the study drug to find a lower dose. The study treatment is not standard medical care and should not replace usual medical care. Participation in this study may be up to 6 months and includes 10-clinic visits plus 5-telephone call visits.

Principal investigator: Michel Mendler, MD

Safety and Efficacy of Rifaximin 550 mg With and Without Lactulose in Subjects with a History of Recurrent Overt Hepatic Encephalopathy

This is a randomized, multicenter placebo controlled clinical looking at the use of rifaximin administered orally with lactulose compared to rifaximin without lactulose in patients with Hepatic encephalopathy (HE). Participants will be involved for up to 6 months and this research study will include up to 9 study visits.

Principal investigator: Michel Mendler, MD

Safety and Pharmacokinetics of Ifetroban Injection in Hepatorenal Syndrome

This is a randomized, multicenter placebo controlled clinical for UCSD hospitalized patients diagnosed with hepatorenal syndrome (HRS). Currently, there are no drugs approved in the United States for the treatment of HRS. The investigational drug in this study is Ifetroban sodium. The purpose of this study is to find a safe and effective dose of the study drug in patients with HRS.

Principal investigator: Michel Mendler, MD 

Physician-Scientist Research Laboratories and Centers at UC San Diego Affiliated with the Liver Center and the Center for Transplantation


bullet Scientific Articles on Liver Conditions and Therapies

View titles and abstracts of scientific articles written by UC San Diego Health System liver specialists.

Clinical Trials

UC San Diego Health System is currently conducting clinical trials relating to a broad spectrum of liver diseases and abdominal issues. Find an open clinical trial at the link below or call 619-543-5459.

Search Clinical Trials

Also visit the Clinical Translational Research Institute (CTRI) for more information on clinical research in health sciences.