Lai Among Bay Area’s ‘Top 40 Under 40’

UC San Francisco’s Jennifer Lai, MD, MBA, was recently selected as a “Top 40 under 40” in the Class of 2015 by the San Francisco Business Times. She is the only UCSF faculty member honored by the publication.

Lai, 36, is a general and transplant hepatologist, specializing in treating patients with chronic viral hepatitis (both B and C), autoimmune disorders, and those with end-stage liver disease needing liver transplantation.

Jennifer Lai, MD, MBA

“I am personally honored to receive this award,” said Lai, an assistant professor in hepatology within the Division of Gastroenterology in the Department of Medicine. “But, this award is a reflection of the focus and attention that both the UCSF divisions of gastroenterology and geriatrics have given to creative research initiatives like my own.”

She is actively engaged in patient-oriented clinical research within the core principles of geriatrics (i.e., frailty, disability, lag-time benefit) to cirrhosis patients and liver transplant patients, organ allocation and distribution, and liver donor quality.

Lai is principal investigator for the National Institutes of Health-funded Functional Assessment In Liver Transplant (FrAILT) Study, which aims to apply measures of frailty and functional status to patients with end-stage liver disease awaiting liver transplantation. Her central hypothesis is that applying principles of geriatric assessment to this population can improve the ability to better identify patients particularly vulnerable to adverse outcomes before and after liver transplantation. Her research lays the groundwork for therapeutic interventions to "pre-habilitate" patients awaiting liver transplantation to improve their outcomes and quality of life.

This study is currently funded by a Junior Faculty Career Development Award from the American College of Gastroenterology, NIH grants for Early Medical and Surgical Subspecialists in Aging Research Award (R03); and the UCSF Older Americans Independence Center Associate Scholar Award. Lai is the recipient of a T. Franklin Williams Scholar Award and, most recently, the prestigious Paul B. Beeson Award in Aging Research from the NIH in recognition of this innovative research.

After earning her undergraduate degree from Stanford University and combined MD/MBA degrees from Tufts University, Lai completed her residency at the New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia and gastroenterology and advanced/transplant hepatology fellowships at UCSF. She is a member of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, American Society of Transplantation, American Gastroenterological Association and American College of Gastroenterology. Recognized as a Fellow of the American College of Physicians (FACP), she is board certified in internal medicine, gastroenterology and advanced/transplant hepatology.

To qualify for the “Top 40 under 40” award, an individual must work, and preferably live, in the five counties covered by the San Francisco Business Times: San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Marin, along with Palo Alto. Nominees must have been under age 40 through Dec. 31, 2014, and not previously honored by the publication.

This is the fourth year the San Francisco Business Times has published its special issue.

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