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Dr Alastair O'Brien
Rayne Building
5 University Street
Tel: 02076796851
  • Reader in Experimental Hepatology
  • Metabolism & Experi Therapeutics
  • Div of Medicine
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences

I studied medicine at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals and qualified in 1994. I underwent specialist training in liver disease, gastroenterology and general medicine in London and was appointed as a Clinical Senior Lecturer at University College London in 2007. I was appointed Reader in 2015.
I divide my time between clinical care at University College Hospital and the Royal Free and my academic work at UCL.

Research Summary

I was a Medical Research Council clinical training fellow (1999-2002) and completed my PhD thesis under Professor Mervyn Singer at UCL. This work led to a landmark paper on the use of terlipressin as rescue therapy for norepinephrine-resistant septic shock that was published in the Lancet.

My research group examines the host response to infection in people with liver cirrhosis. Liver disease is one of the commonest causes of death in the UK. In 50% of cirrhotic inpatients, infection is the precipitant for hospital admission and a further 15-35% develop nosocomial infections, compared to only 5-7% of general patients. Of those cirrhotic patients who develop sepsis and organ dysfunction, 80-90% will die. We have demonstrated that prostaglandin E2 is a key mediator of leukocyte function in these patients (O’Brien et al, Nature Medicine 2014). This is bound by albumin and this work led directly to our 40 site UK-wide clinical trial of albumin to reduce incidence and complications of infection (ATTIRE; www.attiretrial.com; http://public.ukcrn.org.uk/search/StudyDetail.aspx?StudyID=18450). This work is funded The Wellcome Trust & Department of Health under the Health Innovation Challenge Fund.

I collaborate closely with Professor Derek Gilroy and we have an MRC project Grant to investigate an exciting new human model of infection in patients with cirrhosis to further understand the cause of immune suppression in these patients.

Teaching Summary

I am actively involved in the teaching and training of undergraduate and postgraduate students in the UCL Division of Medicine. I am course organiser for the drug development module for the Neuroscience Physiology and Pharmacology BSc students, I lecture on the MSc drug development course, as well as teach the clinical medical students for the acute admissions firm, the junior doctors for the UCH PACES course and exam for MBBS finals. I also am one of the faculty for the Royal Free Liver teaching courses for junior doctors, GPs and consultants.

Academic Background
2006 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Medicine University College London
1997 MRCP Member of the Royal College of Physicians – Medicine Royal College of Physicians
1994 MBBS Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery – Medicine United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy's and St.. Thomas's Hospitals
1991 BSc Bachelor of Science – Genetics United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy's and St.. Thomas's Hospitals
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