Autoimmune Liver Disease Pilot Research Funding Awarded to James Squires, MD, MS

December 24, 2019

UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Liver Research Center announced James E. Squires, MD, MS, has received the 2019 Autoimmune Liver Disease Pilot Research Award from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) Foundation, the largest private supporter of liver disease research in the United States.

James Squires MD

 

The AASLD Foundation recently announced its investment of $3.42 million in Research and Career Develop-ment Awards granted to 29 researchers and clinicians. These awards provide critical funding for liver research, encourage young investigators new to the field, secure education and training for clinicians, and increase access to trained hepatology providers for patients with liver disease.

Dr. Squires is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and program director of the Pediatric Transplant Hepatology Fellowship Program in the Division of Pediatric Gastro-enterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at UPMC Children’s.

As one of the Foundation’s award recipients, Dr. Squires will utilize the tested model of a Learning Healthcare System (LHS) to decrease variability and improve care for children with autoimmune liver disease. Dr. Squires will work to develop a collaborative partnership with the most mature of these systems, the inflammatory bowel disease-focused ImproveCareNow (ICN). 

Reflecting the success of the LHS model, a growing number of disease-specific LHS networks have been developed; however, each new network accrues a significant cost related to research infrastructure, data sharing mechanisms, and computational capabilities. Recognizing the complex but well-established relationship between pediatric inflammatory bowel disease and autoimmune liver disease, Dr. Squires’ work, supported by the Pilot Research Award, looks to avoid a “re-inventing of the wheel” by imagining a novel system of integration, capitalizing on disease parallels and shared populations, and merging existing network resources with unmet needs to improve quality, affordability, and outcomes
in pediatric autoimmune liver disease.

“Despite recent strides and successes in the treatment of many liver diseases, there is still much work to be done if we want to get closer to a world without liver disease. Integral to the success of this vision will be a consistent, stable source of funding for those committed to finding cures and saving lives through innovative research. AASLD Foundation award recipients, like Dr. Squires, are essential to increasing quality of care and discovering new treatments for liver diseases. Their work ultimately benefits patients, and the Foundation is proud to support its award recipients in their research and training,” explains AASLD Foundation Chair Bruce R. Bacon, MD, FAASLD.

Dr. Squires was selected from a highly competitive applicant pool by a committee of academic and clinical specialists, physicians, and advanced practice providers in the fields of hepatology and transplant hepatology. 

“Interdisciplinary collaborations define much of what we know about many diseases today. These efforts inform medical communities, patients, families, industry, and governmental agencies about specific insights into disease processes that are critical for the day-to-day practice of health care professionals. And yet gaps in connectedness exist, often in the most vulnerable populations, where improved organization has the potential to transform research and improve health outcomes at scale. Thus, the award will enable the partnering of multiple centers of excellence with patients, families, and investigators to enable future works aimed at identifying and overcoming common challenges of research in autoimmune liver disease. This award will also allow me to establish myself as a leader in the field of pediatric autoimmune liver disease, cultivating the LHS to support the conduct of observational research, clinical trials, patient advocacy, and quality improvement across the spectrum of autoimmune liver diseases,” says Dr. Squires.

To learn more about AASLD Foundation and its 2019 award recipients, visit aasldfoundation.org.