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Liver Center: Research and Clinical Trials

Contact Us

Call 619-543-5415

Clinical trials of innovative therapies designed to halt the progression of and reverse liver injury are currently underway at UC San Diego Health.

Through research, important advances in the treatment of liver disease continue to emerge.

Current Research

Our current research is focused on:

  • Molecular imaging to refine estimates of liver function
  • Fatty liver and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
  • 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.

Participation in Current 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.

Observational Registries

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 U.S. 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 the hepatitis C virus in the “real world.” None of the procedures that are regularly done in order to treat and monitor chronic hepatitis C are changed by this observational study. The registry is open to patients who are undergoing treatment for hepatitis C at UC San Diego.

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

For questions related to the following research projects, please contact clinical research coordinator,
Natali Navarro, CCRC, at 619-471-3922.

Clinical Trials: New Medications

Hedgehog Inhibitor for Patients With Advanced or Metastatic Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Child-Pugh A Cirrhosis

The purpose of this study is to test the safety and determine the maximum safe dose of an experimental drug called LDE225 (hedgehog inhibitor) in people with liver cancer. Hedgehog dysregulation has been identified as a novel mechanism for hepatocarcinogenesis and hepatic fibrosis/cirrhosis.

The hedgehog inhibitor may be an ideal drug target for treating both hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and Child-Pugh A cirrhosis (CPA).

Principal investigator: Jason Sicklick, MD

bulletMore information at

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 is to see 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 UC San Diego hospitalized patients diagnosed with hepatorenal syndrome (HRS). Currently, there are no drugs approved in the U.S. 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.

Find A Clinical Trial

UC San Diego Health 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.

Research Laboratories

The following are physician-scientist research laboratories and centers at UC San Diego that are affiliated with the Liver Center and the Center for Transplantation.


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

bullet Scientific Articles on Liver Conditions and Therapies

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