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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Houston VA Physician Receives Grant for Hepatitis C Research

February 5, 2008

HOUSTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded a $450,000 research grant to Hashem El-Serag, M.D., M.P.H., a staff physician in the Research Care Line at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC).

The three-year VA Investigator Initiated Award will help fund El-Serag's research to study the genetic determinants of fibrosis in people suffering with hepatitis C.  Chronic hepatitis C virus infection affects more than 170 million persons worldwide and is responsible for the development of liver cirrhosis in many cases.

“This research will enable us to understand the role of some of the genetic factors related to obesity in relation to liver damage in hepatitis C-infected patients,” said El-Serag. His co-investigators include Donna White, Ph.D. and Peter Richardson, Ph.D. from the Houston Center for Quality of Care and Utilization Studies.
VA’s Investigator-Initiated Research (IIR) program enables VA clinicians and social scientists to pursue their personal research interests while advancing VA priorities and contributing to the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of VA health care. The IIR program spans the traditional, enduring areas of health services research (cost, quality, and access) as well as emerging areas and current topics. Most projects are multidisciplinary in nature, involving a team of researchers with expertise in a variety of clinical specialties and academic disciplines. Many IIR studies involve data collection at multiple sites, to enhance generalizability and eventual dissemination. Rigorous scientific and programmatic review ensures the high quality of IIR research, and funding is highly competitive. All proposals undergo peer review by an interdisciplinary group of VA- and non-VA researchers. Recommendations of the Scientific Review and Evaluation Board regarding a project's scientific/technical merit, as well as importance to VA, inform all IIR funding decisions.

Also the Chief of Baylor College of Medicine’s Gastroenterology and Hepatology Section, El-Serag obtained his Internal Medicine training at Greenwich Hospital/ Yale University and a clinical gastroenterology fellowship from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.  He has received extensive grant funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, numerous foundations, as well as private industry.

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