Dr. Hawwa Alao possesses a broad background in clinical medicine, with specific training and expertise in Gastroenterology, Hepatology and hepatic microRNA research. Patients have mainly inspired her interests in translational research from “bench to bedside.” Though the underlying etiology of liver diseases remains important, they ultimately lead to chronic inflammation and subsequent liver fibrosis, cirrhosis and cancer. Therefore, Dr. Alao believes that research focused on understanding inflammation and prevention of fibrosis will play a crucial role in the future approach to liver disease, using different disease models to further comprehend the interplay between inflammation, fibrosis and liver cancer. Her goal is to create experimental models that will give insight into the interplay between gene mutation, innate immunity and development of liver cancer on a molecular level. Using chronic hepatitis C as a model, Dr. Alao conducted research aimed at understanding the role of microRNA and interferon-stimulated genes (ISG) in viral clearance between cirrhotic and non-cirrhotic genotype 1 prior null responders to pegylated interferon being treated with direct-acting antivirals (DAA). The results of this research highlighted the role of innate immunity in viral clearance and identified potential biomarkers of treatment response to DAA therapy.
Dr. Alao's research background has provided a robust foundation for continuing independent research in integrating the worlds of basic and clinical science, with the goal of providing tangible contributions that will improve care of liver patients.