Spotlight on… Daniel Fuster

Daniel Fuster, MD, PhD, Attending Physician and Clinical Investigator at Hospital Universitari Germans Trias i Pujol, and Associate Professor of Medicine at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona  As told to URBAN ARCH Admin Core staff, September 2022

Tell us about how you became involved with URBAN ARCH.

 I am an internist from Barcelona, Spain, who spent two plus years as a visiting research scholar within the Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) Unit in the Section of General Internal Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine/Boston Medical Center from 2011 to 2013 with Dr. Jeffrey H. Samet as my main mentor. Because of my interest in HIV, HCV, alcohol, and liver damage, I was involved in several secondary analyses of the HIV-LIVE cohort of people with HIV with alcohol use. During my time in Boston, I also had the opportunity to work with the late Dr. Richard Saitz, Dr. Judith Tsui, Dr. Debbie Cheng, and Dr. Kaku So-Armah, among many others. I also had the pleasure of attending the first URBAN ARCH Annual Meeting. URBAN ARCH has been a very valuable resource, allowing me to collaborate with this wonderful group of researchers, many of whom have become both colleagues and close friends.

So far, I have been a lead author on an URBAN ARCH paper assessing the impact of cannabis on liver fibrosis. I am also working on another paper assessing the impact of tobacco use on liver fibrosis, using URBAN ARCH data. In addition, I have been a coauthor on a paper focused on immunosenescence and liver fibrosis led by Dr. So-Armah, and another about zinc deficiency and liver fibrosis led by Dr. Barocas.

How have you utilized URBAN ARCH resources in regards to training & mentoring?

I try to attend the mentor office hour sessions, as it is wonderful to have a great group of mentors who can devote some of their precious time to help me in boosting my research ideas.

How have you benefitted from the mentoring relationships you have built through your work with URBAN ARCH and the International URBAN ARCH Center?

Since I went back to Barcelona, URBAN ARCH has been a fantastic resource to continue collaborating with leaders in the field of Addiction Medicine. It is also very refreshing to use the networking opportunities that URBAN ARCH offers, as I sometimes feel isolated in my own institution, despite my great colleagues within the Addiction Unit, as pursuing a career as a clinical researcher in Spain is challenging.

Can you share one of your favorite memories from your work with URBAN ARCH?

I always look forward to the College on Problems of Drug Dependence Annual Meeting so as to see my mentors and colleagues again. It is great to have this sense of belonging to a wonderful group of people who strive to have a positive impact on the lives of patients who struggle with chronic viral infections, alcohol, and other substance use.

Dr. Fuster and Dr. Samet at the College on Problems of Drug Dependence Annual Meeting in 2016.

Thanks to URBAN ARCH, my interest in the interaction between alcohol, other substances, viral infections, and the liver remains intact after so many years. As Dr. Samet once said, “HIV, the liver and other substances- that is your sweet spot.”

In what way has your work with URBAN ARCH impacted your career development?

My research career has been very positively impacted by my work with Dr. Samet within URBAN ARCH. In fact, Dr. Samet generously invited me to join him in writing a review entitled “Alcohol use in patients with chronic liver disease” for the New England Journal of Medicine. Many of the papers I have written with the Boston group have received a lot of positive attention. All my work with Dr. Samet has been instrumental in becoming an independent researcher and in obtaining my own research funding.

What is one thing people would find surprising to learn about you?

As a kid, I started to learn English because I wanted to become an actor and I wanted to live in the US. As I had a very severe stutter, I decided not to become an actor, and I ended up in medical school instead. Learning English proved to be a very important asset, and later in life I did live in the US, albeit for a short period of time.

Any other comments?

I would encourage other fellows and researchers in training, and even mid-career physician scientists, to benefit from all the training and mentorship opportunities that URBAN ARCH has to offer.