About Us

At Children's, our researchers partner with colleagues at Emory University School of Medicine to improve the treatment and quality of life of children with liver disease.

We’re committed to being at the forefront of liver transplant research. Our researchers are involved in a number of collaborate efforts that further our efforts and expand our understanding of liver disease in children.

Our Research

Childhood Liver Disease Research and Education Network (ChiLDREN)

ChiLDREN is a collaborative network organized to study rare childhood liver diseases, sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Children’s is among only 16 pediatric centers in the country to participate in the network.

The goals of ChiLDREN include:

  • Facilitate the discovery of causes of childhood liver disease
  • Develop new diagnostics tests or disease markers
  • Develop treatment options for children with liver disease and those who undergo liver transplant
  • Train the next generation of investigators in rare pediatric liver diseases

Diseases studied by the network include:

  • Alagille syndrome
  • Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency (A-1AT)
  • Bile acid synthesis and metabolic defects
  • Biliary atresia
  • Cystic fibrosis liver disease
  • Idiopathic neonatal hepatitis
  • Mitochondrial hepatopathies
  • Progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis

The name of the protocols that are a part of ChiLDREN is in bold:

  • PROBE : Prospective Database of Infants with Cholestasis. A study of infants up to age 6 months with jaundice from liver disease 
  • START : Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Corticosteroid Therapy Following Portoenterostomy in Infants with Biliary Atresia. A study to evaluate the usefulness of prednisone after surgery for biliary atresia 
  • BASIC : Biliary Atresia Study in Infants and Children. A study to gather information on children with biliary atresia to understand what happens after the Kasai surgery 
  • LOGIC : Longitudinal Studies in Children with Cholestasis. This study involves children with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, Alagille syndrome, progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis and bile acid defects 
  • MITOHEP : Longitudinal Studies of Mitochondrial Hepatopathies. A study to gather information about liver problems in mitochondrial diseases and in fatty oxidation defects

Clinical Trials in Organ Transplantation in Children

CTOT-C is a cooperative research program, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that conducts clinical studies that will lead to improved outcomes for children who’ve received transplants.

Learn more about CTOT-C

iWith clinical trial

The Immunosuppression Withdrawal for Stable Pediatric Liver Transplant Recipients (iWith) clinical trial studies the withdrawal of immunosuppression (anti-rejection) medications in children who’ve received liver transplants.

Learn more about the iWith study

Living Donor Education and Access Program (Project LEAP)

It’s crucial that we expand the number of living donor liver transplant recipients to improve outcomes for children who receive transplants. Consider this: 100 percent of living donor liver transplant recipients at Children’s are alive, based on our current calendar year survival statistics, compared with 85 percent of cadaver liver recipients.

Funded by the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Trust, Project LEAP seeks to:

  • Ensure minority children have access to living donor liver transplantation, which offer excellent outcomes
  • Improve awareness and understanding of living donor transplantation among Georgia’s minorities
  • Identify obstacles to living donor liver transplantation and eliminate those obstacles
  • Become the national resource for children’s living donor transplantation by gathering data about living donor candidates, recipients and transplantation outcomes, including measures of survival and quality of life

A focus on minority organ donations

A LifeLink Foundation study shows that 27 percent of Caucasians decide to donate organs after death, but only 10 percent of African-Americans are willing to do so. In the last four years, only one of 20 children who received a living donor liver transplant at Children’s was African-American. Yet, the number of children receiving deceased liver donations at the hospital was proportional to the state’s ethnic makeup. Roughly 29 percent of Georgia’s children are African-American, and of those receiving liver transplants at Children’s, 36 percent were African-American.

Project LEAP researchers expect to discover why minority children, though undergoing liver transplants at an appropriate proportion based on the state’s population, are under-represented in living donor transplantation.

Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) Clinical Research Network

The NASH Clinical Research Network is a National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)-sponsored collaborative network that focuses on the causes, contributing factors, history, complications and therapy of NASH. NASH is caused by a buildup of fat in the liver, which results in inflammation and damage to the liver.

Learn more about the NASH network

Pediatric Acute Liver Failure (PALF)

PALF is a national collaborative study of infants, children and adolescents with acute liver failure. The purpose of the study is to develop management strategies to help improve the quality of their lives.

Join the study

Researchers will use information from your child’s hospital record, as well as blood and tissue samples (when available), to study the disease. The information they use is held in strict confidence—participation in the study is only possible with informed consent from parents or a legal guardian. No names are used in this study, so the information is confidential.

When your child participates in the study, researchers can use the information about your child’s illness to get a more complete picture of the disease and its causes. This knowledge will help them develop new treatments for this rare and very serious condition.

Study of Pediatric Liver Transplantation (SPLIT)

SPLIT is a cooperative effort among leading pediatric transplant centers in the U.S. and Canada to advance the science of liver transplants in children.

Research focus

Our areas of interest include:

  • Acute liver failure
  • Adolescent transplant patients’ adherence to their medication and lifestyle regimen, and transitioning them from pediatric- to adult-centered care
  • Biliary atresia, a rare disease of the liver and bile ducts that occurs in infants
  • Cystic fibrosis, a lung disease that causes blockages in the liver’s bile ducts
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Hepatitis B and C therapy in children
  • Post-transplantation medical issues 
  • Neonatal alloimmune liver disease, a rare condition in which iron accumulates in a baby’s liver during development in the womb
  • Neonatal cholestatic liver disease, a bile formation or bile flow impairment that damages a baby’s liver tissue
  • Noninvasive diagnosis of liver disease using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Nutritional status after liver transplantation
  • Portal hypertension, an increase in the blood pressure within the portal venous system (veins and vessels that travel through the digestive system)
  • Transplant rejection and immunologic tolerance (acceptance by the body)