NOVO NORDISK FOUNDATION-SPONSORED VISITING SCHOLAR FELLOWSHIP RESEARCH PROJECT - 2019
Visiting Scholar: Theresia Schnurr (Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen)
Stanford Faculty Advisors: Joshua Knowles (Cardiovascular Medicine) and Euan Ashley (Cardiovascular Medicine)
Identifying causal genes and mechanisms of action in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease towards drug target discovery
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common cause of liver disease worldwide in children and adults. The strong links between obesity, insulin resistance and NAFLD are well established, but the mechanisms underlying NAFLD progression are incompletely understood. For patients with NAFLD, lifestyle modifications including weight loss and increased physical activity are recommended, but there are no approved pharmaceutical treatments primarily targeting NAFLD. By combining a range of innovative methods including human genetics, high-throughput gene editing, single cell transcriptomics, detailed in vitro experiments and clinical multi-omics studies, Theresia will establish causal genes and mechanisms of action for novel NAFLD loci. This is a first important step towards development of new drugs to address the huge and increasing unmet need posed by NAFLD as well as identification of biomarkers for early diagnosis and efficacy of weight loss interventions.