Complex liver diseases intrigued Dr. Andrés Cárdenas during his residency in Internal Medicine at Boston University Medical Center. Hepatology was his calling, he decided.
“I chose this specialty due to the combination of fascinating pathophysiology and challenging procedures, such as liver biopsies, paracentesis and therapeutic endoscopy,” says Dr. Cárdenas, currently a Staff Member and Consultant at Institut Clinic de Malalties Digestives-Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, Spain, as well as Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Barcelona. “I found out that there was much to learn and also much to offer these patients.”
Dr. Cárdenas completed GI training at Beth Israel Deaconess and Harvard Medical School, followed by a Research Fellowship in hepatology at Hospital Clinic, University of Barcelona. He then pursued an advanced, one-year AASLD Hepatology Fellowship at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, and earned a Master of Medical Science degree at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He completed his doctoral thesis at the University of Barcelona.
Mentors guided him early in his career in clinical research, including J. Thomas Lamont and Nezam Afdhal at Harvard Medical School, and Pere Gines and Vicente Arroyo at Hospital Clinic Barcelona. Dr. Cárdenas now mentors junior colleagues at his institution.
“It’s a way of getting them to be passionate about the field, and to get them involved in research in order to advance knowledge and improve patient care,” he says. “I strongly suggest that people get specific training in clinical or basic research. Formal training with a master’s degree or PhD will really teach you how to understand and conduct research. A pearl of wisdom: the best tool for performing research is patience!”
Much of his research focuses on cirrhosis, and managing patients who often require invasive interventions.
“After liver transplantation, we continue to manage these patients, and thus, if they develop complications arising from the transplant, we’re responsible for handling these as well,” he says. Biliary complications can be challenging and must be managed by a multidisciplinary team. “This all requires consensus and adequate following of guidelines. The biggest impact for patients is twofold: One is reaching liver transplantation, and the other is providing a better quality of life after liver transplantation.”
Medical Societies Matter
AASLD and other societies offer a way for physicians from across the globe to share best practices and research advances, and help to raise awareness about the burden of cirrhosis and what can be done for these patients, he says.
“We can encourage younger generations to adequately manage these patients and also de-stigmatize this disease. They must carry the torch so that patients are better served.”
Dr. Cárdenas became involved in AASLD during his early years as a GI/Hepatology fellow, and then became a FAASLD in 2015. Mentors encouraged him to become involved with AASLD, EASL and AGA. All the global GI/Hepatology societies complement each other well, he says.
“It is important to be involved with medical societies, because you engage in medical education and research, and also network with colleagues from around the globe. We, as members, can also provide a significant contribution to the knowledge and/or practice of liver disease management.”
Outside of his work, Dr. Cárdenas finds time to travel, run, play tennis, ski and listen to all types of music, especially jazz, he says.
“A pearl of wisdom I would share is that the best tool for performing research is patience!” — Andrés Cárdenas, MD, MMSc, PhD, AGAF, FAASLD