Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is a leading cause of cirrhosis and liver failure worldwide. However, current treatments for ALD are very limited and generally offer only modest survival benefits to patients with the most severe cases of the disease. The lack of specific and effective treatments for ALD are a result of gaps in knowledge of the mechanisms by which alcoholic liver injury is initiated, and progresses, to cirrhosis.
Emory University School of Medicine fourth-year MD/PhD student Daniel Chopyk was recently awarded an F31 grant by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) for “A pivotal role for junctional adhesion molecule-A in alcoholic liver injury.”
Chopyk will investigate how chronic ethanol exposure impacts the expression of JAM-A as well as its downstream signaling functions both in vitro and in vivo.
The long-term goals of this project are to fully characterize the molecular targets of ethanol in disrupting intestinal barrier integrity and to elucidate the molecular mechanisms through which intestinal barrier function regulates the liver adaptive immune response in ALD. Chopyk’s work will serve as a framework to better understand human ALD pathophysiology and to aid in the development of safer, more effective therapies.