Alexander H. Nguyen, MD, PhD

Key Investigator

  • Alexander H. Nguyen, MD, PhD

Liver Lipid Metabolism

Metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD) is the most common liver disease in America, affecting one in three adults. While most patients with this condition have an excellent prognosis, a subset of patients develop steatohepatitis, which is characterized by hepatocyte stress and immune cell activation. This chronic damage and inflammation lead to fibrosis, end-stage liver disease, and cancer.

The goal of our research is to understand how lipid metabolism contributes to the development of steatohepatitis. We study genes and cellular processes that function to protect hepatocytes from environmental and genetic stressors. We utilize a broad range of techniques to understand these processes including molecular assays, biochemistry, cellular models, animal models, and patient data. By understanding these pathways, we hope to develop molecular diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic tools to improve the clinical management of steatotic liver disease.

Honors & Awards

  • NIH-NIDDK K08 grant, 2024
    • Dr. Nguyen, assistant clinical professor of medicine, was awarded a K08 Clinical Investigator Award from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. This five-year award of $853,000 supports Dr. Nguyen’s research on the “Role of a Novel Methyltransferase in Liver Lipid Metabolism.” His work aims to characterize how a methyltransferase regulates cellular cholesterol metabolism and contributes to the development of steatotic liver disease.
  • DDW Basic Science Travel Award, 2024
  • Research Scholar Award, American Gastroenterological Association, 2023
  • Emerging Generation Award, American Society for Clinical Investigation, 2023
  • Resident/Fellow Ambassador, American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, 2019
  • Emerging Liver Scholar Award, American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, 2018

About Dr. Nguyen

Dr. Nguyen received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, his medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College and doctoral degree from The Rockefeller University. He performed undergraduate research on tumor suppressors with Iswar Hariharan. For his graduate studies with Sohail Tavazoie, he used large-scale functional genomic screening and xenograft animal models to study metabolic mechanisms involved in colorectal cancer metastasis. Dr. Nguyen then completed his internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship at UCLA. He performed post-doctoral research with Peter Tontonoz studying regulation of lipid metabolism. His fellowship research training was supported by the UCLA Specialty Training and Advanced Research (STAR) program and a NIH T32 UCLA GI training grant. Dr. Nguyen joined the faculty at the UCLA Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases in 2023. He was awarded an Emerging Generation Award from the American Society for Clinical Investigation and a Research Scholar Award from the American Gastroenterological Association. His goal is to understand lipid regulation in the liver to better diagnose and treat steatotic liver disease. Profile on Google Scholar

Lab Members

Research Associates

Gabriel Ordonez

Gabriel Ordonez
Gabriel graduated cum laude in physiological science (BS) with a neurobiology focus at UCLA in 2023 and studied abroad at the University of Cambridge in 2022. On the physician-scientist track, he aims to earn his MD, PhD degrees in order to research the metabolic pathophysiology of neuroinflammatory diseases. Under Dr. Nguyen, Gabriel's projects involve inflammation, immunology, and lipid metabolism as they pertain to steatohepatitis. His outside interests include swimming, travel, and volunteerism.

Khoi Pham

Khoi Pham
Khoi received a BS in biochemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is interested in studying diabetes and lipid metabolism and plans to attend graduate school in biomedical research. He loves being in nature.


Undergraduate Students

  • Kenneth Nguyen
  • Lany Tran
  • Zaid Vellani


  • Lauren Uchiyama, MD-PhD Student in the Tontonoz Lab


Dr. Nguyen’s full listing on NCBI

Contact Us

If you would like to contact us, please email Dr. Nguyen at [email protected]

If you are interested in joining our research group, please include a cover letter detailing your relevant accomplishments and your CV. We are particularly interested in training physician-scientists.