Dr Nicole Cianci

Non-invasive tests for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) to determine their success at predicting death rates.

Doctor F1/F2 Research Award

“Biomarkers for all-cause mortality in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD): a systematic review and meta-analysis.”

NAFLD is an increasingly common disease, affecting up to 1 in 3 adults in the UK. The traditional way of diagnosing and monitoring this disease is by taking a sample of the liver, which is invasive, can be dangerous to the patient, is costly, and is not always available. There has therefore been much emphasis on finding and introducing a wide range of non-invasive tests, ranging from the use of the latest imaging techniques to analysing blood and serum markers, to not only diagnose, but also predict who is at a higher risk of dying from this disease.

“In this study, we aim to pull together the available research on non-invasive tests, to determine their success at predicting death rates. I hope that we will be able to demonstrate that certain tests can be used in clinical practice in particular to predict those at high risk of mortality so that they can receive more focused and aggressive medical care. Ultimately, so that people with NAFLD can lead longer and happier lives.”

Why did you choose this project?

“I have chosen this project because I am interested in liver medicine. The liver is such an important and fascinating organ in our bodies. For example, ancient civilizations, from Mesopotamian to Greco-Roman times, thought that the liver was the centre of human life and housed our spirit. Yet, partly because it is so complex, there is still a lack of understanding of many liver diseases, resulting in ineffective treatments and poor outcomes. Conversely, liver disease can have a devastating impact on patients, leading to hugely reduced quality of life and a high morality rate.”

“Research was one of the main reasons why I wanted to become a doctor. Doctors treat patients and make a difference to individuals’ lives, but through research they also have the opportunity to take our knowledge of science and disease forward, to the benefit many more people.

Winning this award means many things to me. It provides motivation to continue pursing my career both as a doctor and as an academic, which has its challenges and difficulties. It is a validation of my abilities as a researcher and the importance of my project. Crucially, as research is often very expensive the prize money will allow me to access tools to maximise my project, including courses on performing systematic review and meta-analysis. Finally, winning this award will give me platform to pursue larger projects and awards in the future.”

Dr Nicole Cianci

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