Medical Field: Gastroenterology
Award: Finalist
Country: Austria
Year: 2022
Research Work: Interleukin-11 drives human and mouse alcohol-related liver disease
Published in: Gut

The only way to make progress is through science, if you find out something, if you develop, for example new medications or find how things work in the body or what's the process behind it.


Maria Anna Effenberger, MD, is a consultant at the Department of Internal Medicine I, Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Endocrinology at the Medical University Innsbruck and University Hospital Innsbruck, Austria. She is also an investigator at the Gastroenterology Laboratory and delivers clinical education to medical students at the Medical University Innsbruck.

When Maria Anna Effenberger, MD, was 18, she had to decide on her career path. Her love of working with people and curiosity to learn how things work, especially in biology, led her to pursue a career in medicine.

The drive to find out why some things happen is her main motivator to do clinical research while also being a full-time physician. One such thing she wants to understand is why somebody gets a liver disease. Even in her submitted research, she is deeply interested why a lot of people drink alcohol and do not get cirrhosis while others do.

Alcoholic liver disease, especially alcoholic hepatitis, is a growing health care burden with currently limited treatment options. We investigated the role of interleukin-11 (IL-11) in alcoholic liver disease initiation and progression. We analyzed IL-11 serum levels in patients suffering from alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis of other etiology and found a strong positive correlation with disease severity. These findings suggest that neutralizing murine IL-11 receptor may be a future treatment option for alcoholic liver disease.

Maria Effenberger, MD, believes that there is no separation between science and clinical practice in medicine because they are closely intertwined. And she gets the energy to do it all in her family, nature and biking.