- Jihane N. Benhammou, MD, PhD
Hepatology and health services research
The Benhammou Laboratory focus is to understand the predictors, pathogenesis and clinical outcomes of non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD) and fatty liver-associated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in different ethnic populations. To this end, the laboratory conducts multidisciplinary clinical and translational research at UCLA and Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Health Systems. The success of these projects depend on collaboration across fields including transplant hepatology and surgery, human genetics, and human health services.
Current research projects
- Establish patient-derived organoid models for HCC
- Understand the role of statins and key lipid genes in the pathogenesis of NAFLD-related HCC and their effects on the Hippo pathway
- Develop NAFLD definition using pre-existing Electronic Health Records and imaging modalities within Veterans Affairs population
- Identify modifiable clinical risk factors for HCC
Future research projects
- Developing prediction models for HCC in NAFLD in NAFLD patients with and without cirrhosis
- Assessing prevalence of NAFLD in VA Healthcare System
- Study the effects of statin on immunotherapy in HCC
Current funding and support
- KL2 UL1TR001881: National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences Institute. PI: Benhammou, 2022-2025
- Clinical Science Research & Development (CSR&D) grant from the Veterans Affairs Office of Research and Development. Her work aims to improve our understanding of the role of statins for chemoprevention in hepatocellular carcinoma by using novel patient-derived organoid models and interrogating key oncogenic pathways. PI: Benhammou, 2023-2028 Full story
Previous funding and support
- NIH/NIDDK CURE: Digestive Diseases Research Center Pilot and Feasibility Studies (P03 DK41301), 2019-2022
- American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) Advanced Transplant Hepatology Award, 2020-2021
- Visium 10X Spatial Genomics Grant, 2020-2021
- Intercept Pharmaceuticals Investigator Initiated Study to determine the prevalence of NAFLD in the post hepatitis C SVR patient population within Veterans, 2017-2019
In the news
- Selected to AASLD Promoting Leadership Potential for Women in Hepatology Mentorship Program
- New member of the NIH Early Career Reviewer (ECR) Program
- Selected an Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Early Career Women Faculty Leadership Development Seminar recipient
- Joins the executive committee for the VA Cooperative Study, "Preventing Liver Cancer Mortality through Imaging with Ultrasound vs MRI." As a committee member, she joins other liver cancer experts across the country to oversee one of the largest randomized control trials comparing ultrasound to MRI for the early detection of hepatocellular carcinoma
- Joins the editorial board of Hepatology Communications.
- Selected as an early career physician-scientist "scholar" for the 2021-2023 AGA FORWARD Program: Fostering Opportunities Resulting in Workforce and Research Diversity supported by NIH.
- Nguyen V. Pham, MD
- Saroja Bangaru, MD
- Ram Sundaresh, MD
About Dr. Benhammou
Dr. Benhammou completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin, with a major in human biology. She then completed medical school at University of California, San Francisco with a thesis in molecular medicine. Before starting her internship at the University of California, Los Angeles in internal medicine, Dr. Benhammou participated in a two-year intramural program at the National Cancer Institutes studying functional genomics and hereditary forms of kidney cancer.
Dr. Benhammou went on to complete her internal medicine and gastroenterology training at UCLA. There, she received advanced research training in the UCLA Specialty Training and Advanced Research (STAR) program and NIH T32, which supported her graduate studies in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology. Her doctoral dissertation addressed the clinical risk factors of NAFLD hepatocellular carcinoma and the molecular mechanisms at play in NAFLD pathogenesis. Following her PhD, Dr. Benhammou completed additional clinical training in transplant hepatology at UCLA.
Dr. Benhammou joined the digestive diseases and hepatology faculty at UCLA and Greater Los Angeles VA where she will care for patients with chronic liver disease before and after liver transplantation. She will continue to pursue her research on NAFLD-associated hepatocellular carcinoma using clinical and translational research tools. She is board certified in internal medicine, gastroenterology, and transplant hepatology.
Bo Qiano, MD
Dr. Qiao earned his medical degree at Zhangjiakou Medical School in China, followed by an MS in biochemistry at Beijing University. He served as a research associate at USC in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and subsequently joined the Dumont-UCLA Transplant Center. He is now joining the laboratories of Noam Jacob, MD, PhD, and Jihane N. Benhammou, MD, PhD, to continue his work on metabolism and the gut-liver axis.
Nicole Prause, PhD
Dr. Prause specializes in time series analysis, including biosignal processing and cognitive models. She will be working with Dr. Jihane N. Benhammou, Dr. Tien S. Dong and Dr. Arpan A. Patel on a number of clinical, translational and health services research projects in hepatology. Her past research has focused on decision making during alcohol intoxication using direct administration in laboratory studies.
Publications (selected) - Full list on PubMed
- Bangaru S, Sundaresh, Lee A, Prause N, Hao F, Dong TS, Tincopa M, Cholankeril G, Rich NE, Kawamoto, Bhattacharya D, Han SB, Patel AA, Shaheen M & Benhammou JN. Predictive Algorithm for Hepatic Steatosis Detection Using Elastography Data in the Veterans Affairs Electronic Health Records. Digestive Diseases & Sciences. 21 October 2023
- Benhammou JN, Qiao B, Ko A, Sinnett-Smith J, Pisegna, Rozengurt E. Lipophilic statins inhibit YAP co-activator transcriptional activity in HCC cells through Rho-mediated modulation of the actin cytoskeleton. American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology. June 27, 2023
- Benhammou JN, Sinnett-Smith J, Pisegna JR, Rozengurt EJ. Interplay Between Fatty Acids, Stearoyl-Co-A Desaturase, Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin, and Yes-Associated Protein/Transcriptional Coactivator With PDZ-Binding Motif in Promoting Hepatocellular Carcinoma. Gastro Hep Advances. Volume 2, ISSUE 2, P232-241, 2023
- Singal AG, Ghaziani TT, Mehta N, Zhou K, Grinspan LT, Benhammou JN, Moon AM, Yang JD, Salgia R, Pillai A, Zheng E, Rich NE, Gopal P, Jalal P, Verna E, Yekkaluri S, Phen S, Melendez-Torres J, Alshuwaykh O, Choi H, Junus K, Grady J, Song M, Leven EA, Yum J, Gowda V, Alsudaney M, Hernandez P, Sedai N, Parikh N. Recall patterns and risk of primary liver cancer for subcentimeter ultrasound liver observations: A multicenter study. Hepatology Communications. 7(3):e0073, March 2023
- Lee AH, LeBrett WG, Benhammou J, Prause N, Chang L, Patel AA. Opioid Prescription Patterns and Disparities During Ambulatory Encounters in Patients with Cirrhosis. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. December 9, 2022. doi.org/10.1016/j.cgh.2022.11.016
- Alvarez M & Benhammou JN, Darci-Maher N, French SW, Han SB, Sinsheimer JS, Agopian VG, Pisegna JR, Pajukanta P. Human liver single nucleus and single cell RNA sequence identify a hepatocellular carcinoma-associated cell-type affecting survival. Genome Medicine 14, article number: 50 (2022).
- Benhammou JN, Rich NE, Cholankeril G, Zhang P, Zeng W, Rao S, Le W, Wu X, Feng S, Fujiwara N, Meng X, Zhu S, Zaidi S, Tayob N. DETECT: DEvelopment of Technologies for Early HCC deTection. Gastroenterology. doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2022.03.024
- Rao S, Yang X, Ohshiro K, Saidi S, Wang Z, Shetty K, Xiang X, Hassan I, Mohammad T, Latham PS, Nguyen BN, Yu H, Al-Abed Y, Mishra B, Vacca M, Guenigault G, Allison MED, Vidal-Puid A, Benhammou JN, Valrez M, Pajukanta P, Pisegna JR, Mishra L. β2-spectrin (SPTBN1) as a therapeutic target for diet-induced liver disease and preventing cancer development. Science Translational Medicine. 15 Dec 2021 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abk2267
- Benhammou JN. Emerging risk factors for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease associaed hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatoma Res. 2020;6(35). Epub 2020/06/18
- Benhammou JN, Aby ES, Shirvanian G, et al. Improved survival after treatments of patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease associated hepatocellular carcinoma. Sci Rep. 2020;10(1):9902. Epub 2020/06/20
- Aby ES, Winters AC, Lin J, Bui A, Kawamoto J, Goetz MB, Bhattacharya D, Pisegna JR, May FP, Patel AA, Benhammou JN. A telephone and mail outreach program successfully increases uptake of hepatocellular carcinoma surveillance. Hepatol Commun. 2020;4(6):825-33. Epub 2020/06/04
- Benhammou JN, Ko A, Alvarez M, et al. Novel lipid long intervening noncoding RNA, oligodendrocyte maturation-associated long intergenic noncoding RNA, regulates the liver steatosis gene stearoyl-coenzyme a desaturase as an enhancer RNA. Hepatol Commun. 2019;3(10):1356-72. Epub 2019/10/09
- Garske KM, Pan DZ, Miao Z, Bhagat YV, Comenho C, Robles CR, Benhammou JN, et al. Reverse gene-environment interaction approach to identify variants influencing body-mass index in humans. Nat Metab. 2019;1(6):630-42. Epub 2019/09/21
- Aby ES, Benhammou JN, Tabibian JH. My doctor told me I have fatty liver - What do I need to know? JAMA Intern Med. 2019. Epub 2019/07/02
- Dong TS, Aby ES, Benhammou JN, et al. Metabolic syndrome does not affect sustained virologic response of direct-acting antivirals while hepatitis C clearance improves demoglobin A1c. World J Hepatol. 2018;10(9):612-21. Epub 2018/10/13
- Benhammou JN, Dong TS, May FP, et al. Race affects SVR12 in a large and ethnically diverse hepatitis C-infected patient population following treatment with direct-acting antivirals: Analysis of a single-center Department of Veterans Affairs cohort. Pharmacol Res Perspect. 2018;6(2):e00379. Epub 2018/02/28
- Aby ES, Dong TS, Kawamoto J, Pisegna JR, Benhammou JN. Impact of sustained virologic response on chronic kidney disease progression in hepatitis C. World J Hepatol. 2017;9(36):1352-60. Epub 2018/01/24
- O'Mahony F, Wroblewski K, O'Byrne SM, Jiang H, Clerkin K, Benhammou JN, Blaner WS, Beaven SW. Liver X receptors balance lipid stores in hepatic stellate cells through Rab18, a retinoid responsive lipid droplet protein. Hepatology. 2015;62(2):615-26. Epub 2014/12/09