UAMS Researcher Receives Funding from Liver Diseases Foundation

By David Robinson

McGill, an assistant professor in the College of Public Health, will use the three-year, $300,000 award to further explore notable findings related to liver regeneration following acute liver failure caused by acetaminophen overdose. McGill joined UAMS in 2017 with funding support from the UAMS Translational Research Institute.

The AASLD Foundation recently announced its investment of $4.06 million, its largest in the organization’s history, in Research and Career Development Awards granted to 36 researchers and clinicians.

Acute liver failure is a rare but devastating condition, with mortality ranging from 30 to 80 percent, depending upon the cause of the illness, McGill said.

“Acute liver failure can quickly lead to death, taking only a few days,” he said. “Fortunately, the liver has an incredible capacity to regenerate itself after injury.”

McGill’s lab has shown that a lipid (fat) called phosphatidic acid enhances the liver’s regeneration after acute liver failure caused by acetaminophen overdose. His research team will now explore the molecular mechanisms behind this phenomenon to identify targets for new drugs to treat acute liver failure.

His lab will also test the use of phosphatidic acid in blood as a marker of patient survival in acute liver failure. If phosphatidic acid blood levels correlate well with survival, then doctors could use those levels to make faster treatment decisions.

“I am honored and deeply grateful for the support of the AASLD Foundation and its generous donors,” McGill said. “The funds from this award will allow us to push forward the boundaries of our knowledge of liver disease to improve patient care. And UAMS is the perfect place for our work, as it has a rich history of acetaminophen-induced liver injury research.”

McGill was selected from a highly competitive applicant pool by a committee of academic and clinical specialists, physicians and advanced practice providers in the fields of hepatology and transplant hepatology.

“AASLD Foundation award recipients like Dr. McGill are essential to increasing quality of care and discovering new treatments for liver diseases,” said AASLD Foundation Chair Bruce R. Bacon, M.D.

More information about AASLD Foundation and its 2018 award recipients can be found at 

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; northwest Arkansas regional campus; statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Myeloma Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,834 students, 822 medical residents and six dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.