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Liver Lowdown


News You Can Use

Liver Cancer Awareness Campaign Kickoff

The American Liver Foundation kicked off a multimedia campaign supporting October’s Liver Cancer Awareness Month. Sponsored by Bayer Healthcare and Onyx Pharmaceuticals, the campaign featured ads in New York City and San Francisco public transit systems, including subways and buses as well as national reach through a special issue of ALF’s October newsletter. Ghassan Abou-Alfa, MD, medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, chair of the Hepatobiliary Task Force of the National Cancer Institute and a member of the American Liver Foundation’s national medical advisory committee and Tom Nealon, ALF’s National Board Chair, also participated in a radio media tour, which featured interviews with approximately 15 radio stations across the country. The segments had a collective reach of more than 1.5 million people.

The goal of the campaign is to generate greater awareness about the risks of liver cancer and encourage people at risk to speak to their doctors about the disease. The campaign ran through late November.

ALF Creates National Patient Advisory Committee

Through the generous support of Gilead Sciences, ALF has launched its first National Patient Advisory Committee, comprised of 30 members who are living with or were cured of hepatitis C. These individuals will help guide ALF’s communications activities around hepatitis C. On November 20 – 22, 2014, ALF brought together half of the group who participated in media training exercises and heard presentations about hepatitis C communications messaging and ALF public education activities. A meeting of the second half of the group will be held in San Francisco in late January.

ALF Participates in #GivingTuesday

In conjunction with October’s National Liver Awareness Month, the Great Lakes Division launched its #GivingTuesday campaign to promote and enhance its education and advocacy efforts. Every Tuesday through December 2, 2014, which was the official #GivingTuesday, the Great Lakes Division highlighted a story about someone affected by liver disease on its Facebook page. The national office of ALF also participated in its own #GivingTuesday social media campaign.

ALF Gathers at Annual Liver Disease Scientific Conference

ALF organized a number of activities at the recent American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) annual meeting, which took place from November 7-11, 2014, in Boston. Among them:

A joint awards reception announcing the recipients of both organizations’ 2014 Research Awards, including ALF grants for 10 Postdoctoral Research Fellowships and one Liver Scholar. The Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Award is a one-year grant that supports MD, PhD, and MD/PhD postdoctoral fellows who seek professional development, additional training and experience in liver research. The Liver Scholar Award is a three-year basic science award that encourages young investigators to pursue a career in liver-related research. Researchers from many of the nation’s leading academic institutions received grants, including Brigham and Women's Hospital; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Mayo Clinic; Stanford University; NYU School of Medicine; University of California, San Diego; University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Read more about our award recipients.

The Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award was presented to Raymond F. Schinazi, MD, the Frances Winship Walters Professor of Pediatrics, director of the Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology
 and director of the scientific working group on HIV Reservoirs and Viral Eradication at Emory University.

Since 1979, the Research Awards Program has provided more than $25 million in research funding. More than 800 qualified scientists and physicians have pursued careers in liver disease research and treatment as a result of receiving these grants early in their careers.

ALF convened a meeting of its national medical advisory committee (NMAC) to discuss issues of clinical importance as well as ALF’s research and advocacy agendas.

ALF also hosted a corporate roundtable reception where ALF National Board Chair Tom Nealon presented an update of ALF initiatives. The event was attended by NMAC members, ALF senior leadership, staff and board members of the New England Division and ALF’s corporate partners.

On Thursday, January 15, 2015, the American Liver Foundation will be holding a webinar, Making Sense of PBC: A Doctor and Patient Explain, featuring Cynthia Levy, MD, a liver specialist at the University of Miami, and patient advocate Carolyn Evans (Read her story here).

Around Town

ALF Divisions Host Professional Education Seminars
On October 18, 2014, ALF’s Mid-Atlantic Division hosted a symposium about hepatitis C and fatty liver disease. The program highlighted current research, disease management and prescribing guidelines with the goal of ensuring better diagnostic and treatment approaches for two of the most pressing public health issues.

Rockford Yapp, MD, gastroenterologist, Digestive Health Services, member, ALF Great Lakes Division medical advisory committee and chair of the Liver Symposium

On October 25, 2014, ALF’s Great Lakes Division hosted its first annual Liver Symposium. The ALF Great Lakes Division medical advisory committee (MAC), under the leadership of Committee Member and Symposium Chair Rockford Yapp, MD, gastroenterologist at Digestive Health Services, developed the agenda for this event which included continuing medical education credits for healthcare professionals and sessions for patients and the general public. MAC members presented information on topics including hepatitis C, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), hepatocellular carcinoma, and cirrhosis/transplantation to 75 healthcare professionals. Sessions on liver wellness and advancements in hepatitis C treatments were presented to more than 50 patients and the general public. The healthcare professional lectures were followed by a panel discussion and patients-general public attendees participated in roundtable discussions with medical professionals, support group leaders, and patients who recently cleared the hepatitis C virus.

This free educational event was made possible through the generous support of community members and sponsors, including Gilead Sciences; AbbVie; Aureus; Onyx; Novartis; BiocureRX; BriovaRX; Bristol Myers-Squibb; CVS Health; Diplomat Pharmacy; Merck; Northwestern Medicine-Kovler Organ Transplantation Center; Salix Pharmaceuticals; University of Wisconsin; and Walgreens. The Great Lakes Division is planning to host another Liver Sympoisum during May 2015's Hepatitis Awareness Month.

On October 21, 2014, ALF’s Connecticut Division hosted a panel discussion, Hepatitis C: Understanding the Need to Test and Treatment Options, for clinicians as part of its professional education series. Speakers included AnnMarie Liapakis, MD, assistant professor of medicine, digestive diseases and transplant surgery and Tamar Taddei, MD, associate professor of medicine, digestive diseases at Yale University School of Medicine.

Other speakers included: Michael Einstein, MD, Gastroenterology, Transplant Hepatology Hartford Hospital; Michael Schilsky, MD, medical director, Adult Liver Transplant at Yale New Haven Transplantation Center; and Thomas McQuaid, DNP, FNP, associate director, medical affairs at Gilead Sciences.

Dr. Taddei serves on the American Liver Foundation’s national medical advisory committee and is chair of the Connecticut Division’s medical advisory committee where she also serves on its board of directors. Drs. Liapakis, Schilsky and Einstein are members of Connecticut’s medical advisory committee and board. Dr. McQuaid is a member of the board.

The lecture series is supported by AbbVie; Arcaria Health; BioPlus; Bristol Myers-Squibb; Gilead Sciences; and Salix Pharmaceuticals.

On November 7, 2014, the New England Division held its 24th Annual Irwin M. Arias Symposium: Bridging Basic Science and Liver Disease. A distinguished panel of leading biomedical scientists and physicians presented topics specific to liver biology and disease to an audience of students, fellows and scientists. More than 100 people attended.

Paul Bolter, Community Education and Outreach Manager for Alf Greater New York Division. Left to right Paul Bolter; Dr. Edward Lebovics; Dr. Roxanna Bodin; and Dr. David Wolf

The Greater New York Division partnered with Westchester Medical Center and New York Medical College to host a Trends in Hepatitis C Treatment program in Westchester County, NY, on Tuesday, November 18, 2014. More than 50 patients and their caregivers attended, which featured presentations by Edward Lebovics, MD, the Sarah C. Upham professor and director of the Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatobiliary Diseases at New York Medical College and Westchester Medical Center; David C. Wolf, MD, medical director of Liver Transplantation at Westchester Medical Center and professor of clinical medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatobiliary Diseases at New York Medical College; and Roxana Bodin, MD, attending transplant hepatologist at Westchester Medical Center and assistant professor of clinical medicine at New York Medical College. The program was sponsored by Acaria Health and Gilead Sciences.

Honoring Veterans by Protecting Their Health

On Veteran’s Day, ALF’s Mid-Atlantic Division partnered with the Reading Rotary Club, Pennsylvania Health Department and Global Health AspirAction to offer hepatitis C testing for veterans, their families and homeless individuals. The event included an early Thanksgiving dinner, gift bags for the adults and children and a flu shot. More than 1,000 people attended and 50 were tested for hepatitis C.

Marathon Season in Connecticut and New York

On October 11, 2014, a Liver Life Challenge team from the Connecticut Division participated in the NU Hartford Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K. The team was sponsored by Travel Insured International (TII) of Glastonbury, CT. Tina Gehris, vice president of TII and a board member of the Connecticut Division, participated on the team and recruited more than 20 of her employees to join the cause. Other participants of the Liver Life Challenge team included; board member, Scott Swenson, MD of Bristol-Myers Squibb, past Liver Life Challenge participants, Liver Life Walk team captains, liver patients and family members. The teams fundraising efforts support the work of the Connecticut Division.

On November 2, 2014, 17 members of the Greater New York Division’s Liver Life Challenge team, ran in the 2014 TCS NYC Marathon to support ALF Greater New York. The day before, a pre-run brunch to thank runners was held at the historic Pete’s Tavern, hosted by the pub’s co-owner, Gary Egan. For history buffs: the writer O Henry lived down the street from Pete’s Tavern from 1903 to 1907 and it has been said that he wrote his well-known story, "The Gift of the Magi," there.

Meet the New York Team members here.

The Greater New York Division welcomes participants for its Liver Life Challenge team for the 2015 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon in March 2015. Apply today to join the team!

Desert Southwest Holds Inaugural Walk in Dallas/Fort Worth

The Desert Southwest Division held its first Liver Life Walk Dallas/Fort Worth on November 15, 2014. There was an impressive turnout considering that ALF just expanded to the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Nearly 260 walkers helped the Desert Southwest Division raise funds to support ALF programs. Generous sponsors included The Liver Institute at Methodist Dallas; AbbVie; Gilead Sciences; and Total Life Care Pharmacy.

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Page updated: December 9th, 2014


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