Frank J. Tusa Pilot Award for Research in Hepatic Encephalopathy

Application Deadline
Award Amount
Award Term
One Year
Award Type
Clinical / Translational / Outcomes Research
Basic Science Research
Hepatic Encephalopathy (HE)-Related Research
Career Level
Early Stage Investigators
Junior Faculty
Mid-Career Faculty

View the 2024 Request for Applications [PDF].


The purpose of this award is to support new, highly innovative research ideas that focus on interventions to improve outcomes for persons living with Hepatic Encephalopathy (HE) from liver diseases. Responsive projects will address highly innovative research ideas that have a clear potential to produce high-impact results, but that have little or no preliminary data to successfully compete for funding from other sources. This award is not intended to support ongoing research in the applicant’s laboratory, but rather support new ideas or approaches that have not previously been studied.



In order to be eligible for this award, the applicant must adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. The applicant must:
  • Be an Early-Stage Investigator (as defined by the NIH) up to faculty at or below the rank of Associate Professor/equivalent. 
  • Be a member of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) at the time of award application and maintain active membership for the duration of the award period.
  • Be able to devote at least 20% effort to the research project on which this application is based.
  • Be sponsored by a public or private non-profit institution accredited in the United States, Canada or Mexico engaged in health care and health-related research. Individuals employed at the NIH, FDA, and CDC are not eligible to apply.
  • If the applicant is below the rank of Associate Professor/equivalent, they must have a mentor or co-mentor who is an AASLD member in good standing at the time of application and for the duration of the award period. Mentors are not required for Associate Professor/equivalent level applicants.
  • Not hold federal funding (e.g., U, P, R, K, VA Merit, VA CDA) unless they are able to justify the following in their application:
    • The project is truly completely distinct and non-overlapping from existing funding.
    • The proposed work cannot be completed using existing funds.
  1. The proposed project must: 
    • Focus on research on interventions to improve outcomes for persons living with Hepatic Encephalopathy (HE) from liver diseases. 
    • Be hypothesis based.
    • Include only 1-2 aims that can be completed in the one-year award term.
    • Include direct clinical interaction (clinical), patient clinical data (outcomes), or patient samples (translational). Proposed research may include pragmatic studies.
    • Not be an established project with alternate funding. 
    • Be conducted at the sponsoring institution within the United States, Canada, or Mexico.
  2. Application limits:
    • There is no restriction on the number of applicants an institution can sponsor each cycle, but only one applicant may be funded per distinct department within each institution in this award category. 
    • Applicants may only apply for one AASLD Foundation research award per calendar year. Eligible applicants in this category may also apply for the AASLD Foundation Advanced/Transplant Hepatology Award in the same calendar year.   


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The 2024 Frank J. Tusa Pilot Award for Research in Hepatic Encephalopathy program is made possible through a generous contribution from the Tusa Family to establish the Frank J. Tusa Fund.