Speaker Bios

Dr. Irwin Arias is a triple Emeritus: Professor of Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Professor of Physiology and Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, and Senior Scientist at the National Institutes of Health where he continues to teach.

He has dedicated his career to bridging the gap between scientists in the lab and medical doctors in the clinic, continually building bridges to link basic biology to human disease. In his long and continuing career in liver-related science, medicine, and education, some of his most notable accomplishments include discoveries of mechanisms of inheritable jaundice, ABC transporters mediate bile transport, and that AMP Kinase and Liver Kinase-81 regulate hepatocyte polarization, mitochondrial fusion, ATP production, and bile transporters. These research outcomes established new paradigms for biliary secretion and led to molecular identification of inheritable liver diseases.

A founder of the American Liver Foundation (ALF) and long-term member of both the former New England Division and National Board of Directors, Dr. Arias has contributed substantially to the mission of ALF and his energy and passion for helping liver patients shows no signs of stopping. His support of young PhD and physician scientists interested in the pursuit of liver disease is nothing short of inspiring. Dr. Arias has been the recipient of many national and international honors and his course, “Demystifying Medicine”, which he established at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has gained national and global attention.

Harvey J Alter, has been designated a Distinguished NIH Investigator, only one of 23 NIH scientists to hold that distinction. In his long career in clinical research, Dr. Alter has played a key role in the discovery of two hepatitis viruses, namely hepatitis B virus (HBV) and the non-A, non-B virus, later designated the hepatitis C virus (HCV). In long-term prospective studies, Alter helped define the natural history of NANB/HCV infection and proved its frequent progression to chronic hepatitis and its evolution to cirrhosis and liver related mortality.

Dr. Alter was principal investigator in sequential prospective studies of transfusion-associated hepatitis (TAH) that were instrumental in influencing national blood policy and documented the progressive decline of TAH incidence from 33% in the 1960s to near zero in 1997. Millions of cases of TAH have been prevented through interventions documented in these studies.

For these studies, Dr. Alter has been awarded the PHS Distinguished Service Medal, the AABB Landsteiner Prize, the First International Medal for Science from France’s INSERM, the American College of Physicians (ACP) Award for Outstanding Work in Science, and the Distinguished Achievement Award of AASLD.
For his cumulative research accomplishments, Dr. Alter was elected to fellowship in the American Association of Physicians and received the prestigious Clinical Lasker Award and the Canada Gairdner International Award. He was elected to both the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine and achieved Master status in the ACP. In 2020, Alter was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine.

Dr. Rice is the Maurice R. and Corinne P. Greenberg Chair in Virology and serves as Head of the Laboratory for Virology and Infectious Disease at The Rockefeller University. He is one of the world’s most accomplished virologists and a prominent figure in research on members of the Flaviviridae including hepatitis C virus (HCV). Dr. Rice received his bachelor’s degree from University of California Davis in 1974 and earned his Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology in 1981. From 1986-2000, Dr. Rice was a faculty member at Washington University in St. Louis. His research team has helped to understand the biogenesis and structure of HCV-encoded proteins, discovered a highly conserved RNA element at the 3’ terminus of HCV genome RNA, and produced the first infectious molecular clone of the virus—an essential tool for future studies on this important human pathogen. His laboratory has established cell culture systems and animal models for studying HCV replication and evaluating antiviral efficacy. Dr. Rice has co-authored over 500 articles in the field of virology, serves as a reviewer for numerous journals, is a past President of the American Society for Virology, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Member of the U. S. National Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the M. W. Beijernick, Dautrebande, Robert Koch, InBev Baillet-Latour prizes, the Lasker-Debakey Clinical Medical Research Award, and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Kendra has a long-standing interest in the pathogenesis of metabolic disease and has co-authored numerous peer-reviewed research publications and book chapters in the metabolism field. She received her B.A. in Biology from Colgate University, and her Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics from the Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University. Kendra conducted her post-doctoral work at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School in Boston, where she became interested in the role of cellular signaling in the regulation of metabolism. In 2006, Kendra joined the University of Pennsylvania as an Assistant Professor and was subsequently promoted to Associate Professor with tenure.
Kendra joined Pfizer’s Internal Medicine Research Unit in 2015, where she currently leads research and discovery efforts in the NASH and Obesity therapeutic areas. She leads a talented team of scientists focused on developing a deep understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying metabolic dysfunction, with the goal of identifying novel ways to treat and eventually prevent metabolic diseases. Kendra has a strong commitment to training and mentoring the next generation of scientists, and she serves as the Internal Medicine representative to the Pfizer Global WRDM Post-Doctoral Program.

Rotonya McCants Carr, MD is the Cyrus E. Rubin Chair and Division Head of Gastroenterology at the University of Washington. She is a basic science researcher and clinical hepatologist who specializes in the care of patients with fatty liver diseases. Her laboratory uses complementary in vivo and cellular approaches to investigate the mechanisms of insulin resistance in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcoholic liver disease (ALD).
Dr. Carr is a member of the American Gastroenterological Association, American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, European Association for the Study of the Liver, Research Society of Alcoholism, founding member of the Association of Black Gastroenterologists and Hepatologists, and national board member of the American Liver Foundation. She is a former guest editor of Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology and current editorial member of Hepatology, Liver Transplantation, and the Journal of Lipid Research. In 2020, Dr. Carr was honored as one of Cell’s most inspiring Black scientists.

Dr. Hien T. Dang is a tenure-track Assistant Professor at Thomas Jefferson University with the Department of Surgery at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA. Her lab studies the oncogenic roles of RNA binding proteins in primary liver cancer using genomics, bioinformatics, translational science, molecular biology, CRISPR/Cas9 tools and RNA biology. In addition to bench science, her team is currently collaborating with medical oncologists and surgeons to develop biomarkers to identify patients at high risk for HCC.

She completed a postbaccalaureate fellowship at the National Cancer Institute studying genomics of colon cancer. In 2012, Dr. Dang joined Dr. Xin Wei Wang at the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, for her postdoctoral fellowship where she studied the roles of RNA binding proteins in cancer.

Dr. Dang is a current recipient of the American Liver Foundation Charles Trey, MD Memorial Liver Scholar Award, the American Cancer Society-Internal Research Grant, the American Gastroenterology Association Pilot Award, WWSmith Charitable Trust Award, and the Charles Hevner Scholar’s Award. Additionally, she is a Cancer Moonshot Scholar, an R01 equivalent supported by the White House to advance cancer research.

Valerie Gouon-Evans, PharmD, PhD is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Section of Gastroenterology at the Chobanian and Avedisian School of Medicine, Director of the Program of Boston University Liver Biologists (BULB), and Associate Director of the Molecular & Translational Medicine (MTM) PhD Program of the Department of Medicine. As a PharmD PhD lab leader for 16 years, Dr. Gouon-Evans has overseen the creation of a research program to advance understanding of liver development and establishing therapeutic strategies to alleviate liver disease using an induced pluripotent stem cell platform and mouse models. Recently, Dr. Gouon-Evans lab also pioneered an innovative technology to deliver regenerative factors to the liver to treat various liver diseases, by using mRNA complexed to lipid nanoparticles, which is a validated platform with the widely used mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Markus Grompe is a Professor at the Papé Family Pediatric Research Institute at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon, USA. He received his medical doctorate from the University of Ulm in Germany in 1983, trained as pediatrician at Oregon Health & Science University and completed a fellowship in Medical Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.
Dr. Grompe is a physician-scientist who is clinically active as a biochemical geneticist. His research covers three major topics: 1) Cell and gene therapy for genetic liver diseases; 2) Fanconi’s Anemia and 3) beta-cell replacement therapy for diabetes. In the field of liver disease his lab has focused on in vivo selection to enhance cell transplantation and gene therapy. He developed and commercialized the FRG mouse for the extensive replacement of the liver by human hepatocytes (mice with human livers).

Dr. Hoodless completed her PhD at Queen’s University at Kingston Ontario, followed by postdoctoral work with Dr. J. E. Darnell at Rockefeller University in New York, where her work focused on liver gene regulation. She then moved to Toronto to work with Dr. J. Wrana on TGFβ signal transduction. Dr. Hoodless is currently a member of the Department of Medical Genetics and the School for Biomedical Engineering at UBC. She serves as Director and Distinguished Scientist at the Terry Fox Laboratory, BC Cancer Research Institute. Since 2016, she has contributed as a member of the steering committee for the UBC Research Excellence Cluster BC Regenerative Medicine. She has held a number of prestigious investigator awards including CIHR New Investigator, MSFHR Scholar and MSFHR Senior Scholar. Dr. Hoodless’ early, breakthrough work on TGFβ signal transduction uncovered the mechanisms of Smad-mediated signaling. Her current research combines her interests in gene regulation and embryology. Her work uses genomic technologies to understand how genes regulate organ identity, and specifically how transcriptional networks regulate liver and heart valve formation.

David Lloyd is VP of Metabolic Disease at insitro, where he leads a team that applies machine learning to high-dimensional datasets to generate deeper insights into metabolic diseases for the advancement of high-conviction therapeutic candidates. Prior to joining insitro, David’s experience includes leading a team focused on advancing small molecule agonists of GLP-1R toward Investigational New Drug status at Carmot Therapeutics, and working in drug discovery for 15 years at Amgen. At Amgen, David validated numerous genes and therapeutic molecules in diabetes, dyslipidemia, CVD, heart failure, and obesity. His work contributed significantly to the development of the FGF21 therapeutic candidate, now in Phase III as AKR001, and GIPR antagonists in combination with GLP-1R agonists, currently in Phase II as AMG133. David earned his PhD researching familial partial lipodystrophy at the University of Leicester, and mapping chromosome 1q21 at the Sanger Institute. His postdoctoral studies at the Genomics Institute of Novartis Research Foundation focused on a forward genetic approach to finding genes associated with metabolic disease.