Institute of Immunity and Transplantation


Douglas Thorburn

Consultant Physician & Hepatologist

Research area

Autoimmune and Cholestatic Liver Diseases, and Liver Transplantation.

Research programme

Research summary

Autoimmune liver diseases include Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC), Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH) and Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) and in combination account for 15% of the liver transplants undertaken within the UK.

Our group is focused on each of these diseases and we actively collaborate in national (UK-PBC, UK-AIH, UK-PSC) and international consortia (Global PBC and the International PSC Study Group (iPSCSG). There is an active program of biobanking in each of these diseases.  We are undertaking a range of projects and have a particular interest in non-invasive assessment of disease severity and stratification of prognosis.

We have a further interest in immune mechanisms after liver transplantation in collaboration with the Institute of Immunity and Transplantation and the Renal Unit at the Royal Free.

We utilise a number of experimental approaches to examine immune cell function including human blood cells, cell line models of PID generated through targeted silencing of immune genes and murine models of PID. Our work closely collaborates with departmental and national research aimed at identifying the genes that cause PID.

Patient involvement

I am Clinical Director for the Liver Transplantation, HPB, Hepatology, Endoscopy & Gastroenterology services at the Royal Free London NHS Trust. I am an Honorary Senior Lecturer within the Institute of Liver and Digestive Health at UCL. Our clinical service undertakes approximately 100 liver transplants per annum and we cares for over 600 patients with autoimmune and cholestatic liver diseases.

We have many research studies taking place in the department which we invite our patients to enrol for. These investigator led local, national and international studies and contract commercial studies examining new treatments.

We actively collaborate with patient groups including PSC support and the PBC Foundation including hosting a patient support meeting at the Royal Free in November 2014.


Selected publications