Jennifer C. Lai, MD, MBA
Stanford University (undergrad), Tufts University School of Medicine (MD/MBA), Columbia (residency), UCSF (GI/transplant hepatology fellowship)
Assistant Professor of Medicine in Division of Gastroenterology/Hepatology at UCSF; Faculty in the UCSF Pepper Center for Aging Research
I am Principal Investigator of the NIH-funded Functional Assessment in Liver Transplantation (FrAILT) Study investigating the impact of physical fitness on transplant outcomes. My research currently focuses on measuring frailty in liver transplant candidates and quantifying its impact on wait-list mortality and post-transplant outcomes. We are currently poised to expand enrollment into the FrAILT Study at other transplant centers in the United States as well as explore creative strategies to improve physical fitness in liver transplant candidates to enhance survival and quality of life.
What made you decide to work in transplantation?:
Transplant medicine combines long-term relationships with patients and their families with fast-paced, high-stakes, medical decision-making – which makes for an exciting and rewarding clinical practice! I was also strongly influenced to work in transplantation by my mentors - Bob Brown, Norah Terrault, and Sandy Feng, all of whom are dynamic, charismatic leaders in transplantation – who helped pave the way for me to find my passion in this field.
What do you find to be the most valuable aspect of your work?:
I believe that the FrAILT Study has and will continue to provide the transplant community with objective measures of physical fitness and establish why physical fitness is so important to our patients. My hope is that transplant clinicians will systematically incorporate measures of physical fitness into routine assessments of their patients. Physical UNfitness is so integral to the day-to-day experience of a patient with end-stage liver disease and represents an opportunity for interventions to improve both quality of life and survival in the patients we care for.
I am a tennis fanatic! I’m not very good, but what I lack in skill, I make up for with enthusiasm. If I’m not working, you’ll find me at the tennis club working on my serve.