By A.J. Hostetler

Saul KarpenThe Stravitz-Sanyal Institute for Liver Disease and Metabolic Health at Virginia Commonwealth University has named Saul J. Karpen, M.D., Ph.D., to lead its research efforts as its first chief scientific officer.

Karpen, a well-known top pediatric hepatologist, currently holds the Raymond F. Schinazi Distinguished Biomedical Chair at Emory University School Medicine and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He will begin his new duties in March.

As the CSO, Karpen is charged with oversight and strategic planning to expand the horizon of diagnostics and coordinate cutting-edge research discoveries to improve the lives of patients with liver diseases.

“We are delighted to have Dr. Karpen join our leadership team and help us accelerate the science needed to bring preventive and therapeutic strategies across the life cycles of patients,” said Arun Sanyal, M.D., director of the institute.

Karpen called the position a unique opportunity that will improve our understanding of disease progression and allow VCU researchers to develop “new means to deliver innovative prevention and therapeutic care for patients.”

“I am excited to work alongside a luminary such as Dr. Sanyal and the superbly talented team he has gathered to help the liver institute deliver research discoveries and build a legacy of integrated care,” Karpen said.

Karpen will be a professor at the VCU School of Medicine and have an adjunct appointment in pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.

“The Stravitz-Sanyal liver institute is fortunate to have recruited a hepatologist of Dr. Karpen’s caliber to guide its translational research program and transform the institute’s discoveries into innovative clinical care,” said VCU School of Medicine Dean Arturo P. Saavedra, M.D., Ph.D. “Adding Dr. Karpen’s experience to the institute’s stellar leadership team will help the institute reach its goal to be the leading global center for liver disease and metabolic health.”

“With our patient-centered approach, the institute will transform lives through its cutting-edge investigations across a broad spectrum of diseases and conditions related to the liver, including those that affect infants and children,” said Patricia J. Sime M.D., chair of the School of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine.

Shari Barkin, M.D., physician-in-chief of Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and chair of the Department of Pediatrics says her team is delighted Karpen will be joining the institute and that “his pediatric expertise will be an amazing asset to the care of our children with liver disease.”

Karpen received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and his medical degree and doctorate from Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He completed his residency and fellowship at Yale-New Haven Medical Center and joined faculty at Yale as an assistant professor. He is board-certified in pediatrics, with subspecialities in pediatric transplant hepatology and pediatric gastroenterology.

Prior to joining Emory, Karpen was a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and founded the Liver Center at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Founded in late 2021, the Stravitz-Sanyal Institute for Liver Disease and Metabolic Health is building on the successful legacy of VCU's hepatology and liver transplant programs with the goal of becoming a global leader in liver-related research and metabolically driven disorders. It was advanced by the largest publicly shared gift for liver research in U.S. history, a $104 million gift by R. Todd Stravitz, M.D., a hepatologist in VCU’s Department of Internal Medicine and former medical director of liver transplant at VCU Medical Center.