Here, newly elected center coordinators Beti Todorovska, MD, PhD for University Clinic of Gastroenterohepatology (Macedonia), Genco Gençdal, MD for Koç University Hospital (Turkey) and Maria Pilar Ballester, MD, PhD for Hospital Clínico Universitario de Valencia (Spain), tell us about their motivations for joining the EASL-CLIF Consortium.
Image 1: Members of the Department of Hepatology at Hospital Clínico Universitario de Valencia, Spain. © Maria Pilar Ballester. Image 2: Members of the Department of Gastroenterology at Koç University Hospital, Turkey. © Genco Gençdal. Image 3: Members of the Department of Hepatology at University Clinic of Gastroenterohepatology, Macedonia. © Beti Todorovska.
What motivated you to nominate your center to become a member of the EASL-CLIF Consortium?
Dr. Beti Todorovska: For me, as well as for the University Clinic for Gastroenterohepatology, it was a desire and a challenge to apply for this membership, with the aim of becoming one of more than 100 reference centers where studies on chronic liver failure could be carried out in the future. In this way, we will be able to expand our knowledge and deepen the scientific understanding of chronic liver failure, thereby improving the quality of life and influencing increased survival of patients with liver cirrhosis.
Dr. Genco Gençdal: Our team is very active and open to innovations. We are eager to follow the science of hepatology closely and discover new things. Becoming a member of the EASL-CLIF Consortium means that we can collaborate with the many centers that constitute the Consortium and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the field of hepatology.
Dr. Maria Pilar Ballester: We have been collaborating in the COBALT study, with a great contribution in the recruitment of patients for the 2nd phase of the study and coordinating the Spanish centers. Becoming officially part of the prestigious EASL-CLIF Consortium is a privilege both as an individual and for our institution and it offers the opportunity for us to continue collaborating in important international projects.
How do you expect to contribute to the EASL-CLIF Consortium?
Dr. Beti Todorovska: The University Clinic for Gastroenterohepatology is the largest institution in our country where patients with chronic liver disease are diagnosed and treated, where the most complex interventions are performed, so I believe that we can make a significant contribution to numerous multicenter studies by including appropriate patients with chronic liver failure.
Dr. Genco Gençdal: Koç University Hospital is attached to a clinical research center with state-of-the-art infrastructure where phase 1, 2, and 3 studies are carried out. In our clinic, we see a considerable number of liver patients, where we provide both outpatient and inpatient care. We count with a multidisciplinary team to ensure the regular follow up of our patients according to current clinical guidelines. Liver transplants are also actively performed in our hospital (according to 2022 data, 41 liver transplants have been performed, most of them from living donors). We also have close relationship with other centers and have experience participating in multicenter studies. We are very much looking forward to collaborating with other members of the EASL-CLIF Consortium in future studies aiming to address unmet medical needs in liver diseases, cirrhosis, liver transplantation, and hepatocellular carcinoma whether initiated by EF CLIF or led by our hospital.
Dr. Maria Pilar Ballester: Hospital Clínico Universitario de Valencia has a strong background in hepatology and has medical facilities for visiting liver patients. Specifically, in the last year the number of patients with chronic liver disease seen was approximately 7000 in outpatient clinics and 1000 in day hospital facilities. The Department of Hepatology has a research laboratory facility to perform laboratory and additional tests and to administer treatments to patients included in clinical trials and other research projects. There are also two basic research units in direct collaboration with the Department of Hepatology carrying out pre-clinical animal research and working with human biological samples. Hospital Clínico Universitario de Valencia is a university hospital attached to University of Valencia, whose facilities are located right next to the Hospital, including an animal facility and a biobank. Therefore, we expect to continue collaborating in future exciting projects and to benefit from the contribution of other institutions to projects led by our Hospital.
Beti Todorovska, MD, PhD
Beti Todorovska is Head of the Hepatology Department at University Clinic for Gastroenterohepatology, Skopje, Macedonia. Todorovska graduated at Saints Cyril and Methodius University, Macedonia, in 1996 and specialized in Internal Medicine (2011–2006) and Gastroenterology and Hepatology (2010–2012). In 2017, she obtained her PhD degree from Saints Cyril and Methodius University. Her research focuses on viral hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver transplantation, and liver tumors. Todorovska is a current member of the Doctor's Chamber of Macedonia, Madedonia Gastroenteropancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (GEP NETs) Board, Macedonian Medical Association, Macedonian Society of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Macedonian Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, and European Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.
Genco Gençdal, MD
Genco Gençdal graduated from Ankara University School of Medicine, Turkey (2001). He specialized in Internal Medicine at the Okmeydanı Training and Research Hospital, Turkey (2008), and Gastroenterohepatology at Ege University School of Medicine, Turkey (2012). He worked as a clinician and teaching staff in the Department of Gastroenterology at Yeni Yuzyil University and at Uskudar University in Istanbul, Turkey. Since 2020, Gençdal is working as clinician and teaching staff in the Department of Gastroenterology at Koç University Hospital, Istambul, Turkey. His research interests include liver transplantation, hepatic encephalopathy, sleep disorders in liver cirrhosis, hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and autoimmune hepatitis.
Maria Pilar Ballester, MD, PhD
Maria Pilar Ballester is a Specialist in Hepatology and performs her medical activity at Hospital Clínico Universitario de Valencia, Spain. She obtained her cum laude PhD degree from the University of Valencia in 2021 for the study of immune dysfunction associated with cognitive impairment in patients with cirrhosis. Soon after she presented her doctoral dissertation, Ballester carried out postdoctoral studies at University College London, UK, under the supervision of Prof. Rajiv Jalan, where she studied the role of ammonia in the pathogenesis and treatment of complications of cirrhosis, creating the Ammon Consortium, which currently includes 6 hospitals in Europe. Later, she was awarded a national competitive grant by Asociación Española para el Estudio del Hígado (AEEH), and collaborated in three competitive-funded projects receiving funds from Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Fundación Ramón Areces and Programa Prometeo Consellería de Educación Generalitat Valenciana. Ballester is a member of the International Society of Hepatic Encephalopathy and Nitrogen Metabolism (ISHEN) Translational Steering Committee and member of the Asociación Española para el Estudio del Hígado (EEAH) and the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL).