Liver Disease Research

CLDF has a strong track record of supporting research, with over £9 million of research funding delivered since 1980. Most of this money has been donated by families, friends, relatives and other supporters.

Thanks to Children’s Liver Disease Foundation’s amazing fundraisers we are able to provide funding for a variety of projects exploring childhood liver disease. CLDF has a strong track record of supporting research, with over £9 million of research funding delivered since 1980. Most of this money has been donated by families, friends, relatives and other supporters. Research not only enhances our understanding of childhood liver disease and improves available treatments but it gives children, young people and their families hope for a better future.

CLDF funds a wide range of projects including clinical, lab based and social science research all focused on aspects of childhood liver disease. The decision to award funding is made by CLDF’s Scientific Committee. They are a group of experts who ensure research funded by CLDF is rigorous and is most likely to have a positive impact on children with liver disease and their families. We can only continue to support research because of the money you raise. We don’t receive any NHS funding and completely rely upon donations. If you would like to support us to continue funding research into childhood liver disease you can donate here or find out more about fundraising and how you can get involved. CLDF is a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities.

For any enquiries relating to Research, please email

Priorities for paediatric liver research funding 2015 -2020

The following are identified as priority areas for research funding:-

  • Biobank and bio-markers
  • National Paediatric Liver Diseases Register
  • National Register of long term outcome for liver transplant
  • Research into primary paediatric liver disease (all conditions)
    • Prevalence/epidemiology
    • Aetiology
    • Different treatment modes
    • Outcomes
  • Neonatal cholestasis
  • Outcomes in adults of childhood liver diseases, including liver transplantation
  • Clinical research including relevant drug trials in children and the long term effects of medication
  • Social research for all ages and including adults diagnosed in childhood to include definition, measures and interventions in the following areas:-
    • Quality of life
    • Survivorship
    • Transition to adult services
    • Compliance and adherence

Underlying principles in research delivery

In funding and delivering its research programme, the following underlying principles will be paramount:-

  • CLDF gives preference to multi-centre, collaborative research
  • CLDF encourages research which focuses on added value
  • CLDF is keen to identify how and where its research portfolio fits into the wider research programme and agenda
  • CLDF recognises that given its funding available it is more likely to fund work in the early stages of research topic continuum, particularly when it is one which is capable of being taken from bench to bedside. It will monitor its programme for up to seven years beyond the end of a project
  • CLDF expects dissemination of outputs and outcomes to both lay and professional audiences
  • CLDF recognises the importance of the national and international research picture including the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and will take note of topical issues in applying its research priorities
  • CLDF will expect its Principal Investigators to know of and apply to relevant networks and schemes beyond CLDF funded research
  • Research teams are expected to think ‘outside the box’ and are expected to consider enabling European and other collaborations

CLDF Research Funding Mechanisms

CLDF will fund research using the following mechanisms:

  • Project Grants encompassing:
  • Up to 3 years funding
  • Staff costs
  • Consumables costs
  • CLDF PhD student fellowships
  • Small Grants Programme

CLDF Research Hub

CLDF will create projects during the strategy period, which increase opportunities for families and young people to learn more and be involved in research within the field. As part of this CLDF will aim to increase formal patient and public involvement in the design of research projects across the sector by creating a Research Hub, for researchers to obtain feedback from families and young people about the projects they are developing. By providing vehicles for such support CLDF could play a role in enabling a greater number of paediatric liver disease related research projects to be funded and undertaken.

Click here to view the Research Hub.

Strategy Review and Development process

This strategy has arisen out of a consultation over a period of nine months and incorporated consultation with the following stakeholders:

  • Young People
  • Parents
  • CLDF Scientific Committee
  • Medical Professionals
  • Trustees

Consultation took place via a variety of routes:

  • Surveys for medical professionals circulated via BSPGHAN and through our own networks.
  • Surveys for parents and young people circulated via social media platforms and direct invitation.
  • A residential consultation weekend with families and young people.
  • Feedback from our 2014 National Conference.
  • One to One meetings with medical, psychology and nursing staff at Kings College Hospital, Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary
  • Discussion and ratification made at Scientific Committee and Trustee Board Meetings.

Use of animals and indirect costs

CLDF complies with the stance of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) on the use of animals in research as well as with indirect costs. Find out more about the use of animals in research, indirect costs and other policies on the AMRC website.

Funding Research

CLDF offers funding to researchers through a number of different programmes:

  • £10,000 Grants Programme
  • PhD Programme
  • Small Grants Programme

Use of funds

  • Applications will only be accepted for work based in the UK
  • Applications must be in line with the CLDF Research Strategy
  • The funds can be used widely but applicants must always be able to demonstrate how it can contribute to knowledge in paediatric hepatology
  • Funds will not be awarded retrospectively
See Our Recent Research Projects

How we make decisions on the research we fund

CLDF’s Scientific Committee ensures the charity uses its funds to support the highest quality research to benefit the lives of children and young people affected by childhood liver disease now and in the future. The committee’s role is to assess applications for CLDF medical, social science and/or nursing award(s) and make recommendations for funding to the Board of Trustees. Here’s a link to the committee membership.

When we receive applications for funding the first thing we do is triage the applications, making sure they fit with the research strategy. Those that do move to the next stage….

Peer review takes place. This is where scientific experts look at an application and consider the scientific merit of the application and the likelihood that it will have an impact on the understanding, care or treatment of liver disease in children and young people. Each application is reviewed in detail by 2 or 3 reviewers. We make sure that the reviews are not biased and all reviewers have to sign up to our conflicts of interest policy and make us aware of any conflicts they may have .

A member of the Scientific committee will be assigned the role of ‘lead discussant,’ for each application this means that they are responsible for leading the discussion about the application and the peer reviews at the panel meeting, where the whole scientific committee considers the applications.

In preparation for the panel meeting all committee members receive the applications and peer reviews, for all applications that they do not have a conflict of interest for. A conflict of interest might be that the application comes from a colleague, or someone at the same institution. Detailed discussions and appraisal take place at the meeting. Individual committee members then rank the applications in order of their importance. Once collated the committee reviews the collective rankings. Further discussion can take place where there are not clear results. The final choice of successful applications is then made……

The trustees of the charity are then told about the scientific committees recommendations and funding decisions are made.

The applicants for the research round are informed of the outcome and receive feedback on their applications, for unsuccessful projects.

Successful projects are required to keep CLDF up to date on the progress of their research. At least once per year the scientific committee meets to review the formal progress reports from current grant holders and advise trustees whether to grant subsequent years’ funding and the general progress of the research portfolio.

Apply for a CLDF Research Grant

Due to the challenges caused by COVID-19 the CLDF 2020 £10,000 research grant round has been cancelled and we will no longer be accepting applications. This board decision has been taken with the support of our Scientific Committee Chair and Medical Director. The charity faces unprecedented financial challenges and we are also aware that many potential applicants and scientific committee members will not have the capacity to make applications or provide governance for the grant round. If you need further information please email 

Current Research Projects

Dr Eirini (Serena) Kyrana

Role of Sarcopenia in Paediatric Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Dr Steffen Hartleif

The role of vascular adhesion protein-1 in the pathogenesis of chronic graft hepatitis and fibrosis after paediatric liver transplantation

Dr Nicola Ruth

Gene expression profiling to identify causes of graft injury in long term survivors of paediatric liver transplantation

Dr Ivana Carey

New non-invasive serological and virological markers of hepatitis b virus (HBV) – can they help determine future chronic hepatitis b outcomes in children with perinatally acquired HBV infection?

Dr Girish Gupte

A multi-centre prospective study of donor-specific antibodies in children following liver transplantation

Dr Emer Fitzpatrick

Using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy to understand hepatic lipid metabolism in paediatric NAFLD

Dr Gary Reynolds

Lysophospholipid profiling of Fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma (FLHCC) and identification of novel therapeutic targets

Dr Hassan Rashidi

Development of a manufacturing platform to generate 3D liver organoids with semipermeable coating for allogeneic transplantation

Professor Amin Rostami and Dr Jill Barber

Optimising drug regimens in paediatric liver disease using experimentally-derived simulation tools

Dr Luke Boulter

Using single cell sequencing to determine how bile ducts form: understanding the mechanisms to fight Biliary Atresia

Professor Alastair Sutcliffe

Bilibaby: an ongoing project to develop a screening test to be able to detect bilirubin in stool to screen for childhood liver diseases

Dr Claudio Angione

Interpretable machine learning methods for cross-omic mechanistic signatures of young hepatoblastoma

Dr Vandana Jain

Association of stool microbial profile with short-term outcome in infants with biliary atresia after Kasai Portoenterostomy

Professor Deborah Gill

In vivo liver genome editing for the treatment of Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency