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Dr. Mariana Lazo and Team Receive NIH Grant to Study Social Determinants and Racial/Ethnic Disparities of Fatty Liver Disease

Close up of a gloved hand performing a liver scan

July 28, 2023

While chronic liver disease has become a major contributor to recent declines in life expectancy in the U.S., little is understood about the social determinants of this growing public health problem. UHC Associate Research Professor Dr. Mariana Lazo and her team have partnered with researchers from the Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation at Harbor-UCLA to provide new evidence about pathways between social determinants as well as the physical and social environments of communities and fatty liver disease risk.

“Compared to the robust literature documenting the link between social determinants of health to diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, there is a paucity of research on social determinants and liver disease,” Dr. Lazo tells us. “The proposed study will be first population-based study of the role of social determinants of health and community factors in the development and progression of fatty liver disease and disparities in a large, multi-ethnic population in the U.S.”

This work, funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes And Digestive And Kidney Diseases, will also identify underlying structural determinants of excess risk among low-socioeconomic status and ethnic minority populations.

“Decades of research have demonstrated the disproportionate burden of liver disease among racial/ethnic minorities and those with low-socioeconomic position,” Dr. Lazo continues. “With the ongoing epidemic of obesity, and the increase in alcohol consumption, fatty liver diseases have become the most common chronic liver conditions affecting millions of people worldwide.”

Dr. Lazo will be supported by Ana V. Diex Roux, MD, PhD, MPH; Brisa N. Sánchez, PhD; Jana Hirsch, PhD, MES; Usama Bilal, MD, PhD, MPH; and Kari Moore, MS.

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