King’s world-leading liver service expands

16 November 2016 - New research facility will aid the development of new treatments for children’s liver failure

Mowat Labs signage

King’s College Hospital’s first dedicated paediatric research facility has opened at the Trust’s Denmark Hill site.

The Alex Mowat Paediatric Research Laboratories, known as the MowatLabs, have been developed primarily for research into children’s liver disease and acute liver failure, in close collaboration with the adult liver unit at the hospital.

The £1.2m state-of-the-art laboratories – which have been funded entirely through philanthropic donations – bring together clinicians, researchers, nurses, intensivists, surgeons and transplant specialists, in a collaborative research environment.

King’s College Hospital has the only joint paediatric and adult liver facility in the world. It is home to the world’s largest children’s liver unit, treating over 3,000 young patients a year, and is at the forefront of pioneering new treatments.

Professor Anil Dhawan, Clinical Director for Child Health and Director of the MowatLabs at King’s College Hospital, said, “The fantastic new MowatLabs will make all the difference to our young patients with serious, often life-threatening, liver conditions. It will help us develop new therapies and treatments, which will benefit children locally, nationally and internationally. We are already working on a number of exciting new research projects in the laboratories, which will build on over the coming months and years.

“Thanks to very generous donations from key supporters, we continue to strive for treatment breakthroughs, and can maximise the resources available to us.”

Nicholas Ness, whose 14-year-old son Samuel was born with biliary atresia – a condition affecting the bile ducts – had a liver transplant at King’s in May 2015. He said, “Sam is a direct beneficiary of research. Without out it, many of the treatments Sam has benefitted from would not have been available. Sam also spent a year on a drugs trial, which aided his recovery after the transplant. Laboratories like the MowatLabs are vital in making treatment advancements.”

The new laboratories will also encourage research into children’s respiratory medicine, gastroenterology, sickle cell disease and neurological conditions.

For further information please contact:
Karen Welsh
Acting Head of Communications
Extension: +44 (0)20 3299 3850

Notes to editors

1. For further information contact:
Karen Welsh, Corporate Communications,
King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Tel: 020 3299 3850; e-mail:

2. King’s Liver Unit is marking its fiftieth anniversary this year. Since the service was established in 1966, many of the most significant moments in the research and treatment of liver disease worldwide have taken place at the hospital, including:

  • The discovery of genetic faults that cause liver disease and liver cancer in children
  • The world’s first transplant of a split liver into two different patients
  • The world’s first living relative transplant (a piece of liver is taken from a living relative and transplanted into the patient where it grows back to full size)
  • The world’s first liver cell transplant, avoiding the need for a liver transplant

Additionally, King’s is recognised as having:

  • The largest children’s liver transplantation centre in the world, performing more than 60 transplants a year
  • The largest liver transplantation programme in Europe
  • The most liver transplants carried out in the UK in a single year
  • The world’s largest children’s liver biobank

3. The laboratories have been named in memory of the late Professor Alex Mowat, who worked at King’s between 1970 and 1995 as the hospital’s first Consultant Paediatrician and Paediatric Hepatologist. He established a first-class clinical unit for children who suffered with rare conditions, and led research into the causes and treatment of disorders previously thought untreatable in children.

4. King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is one of the UK’s largest and busiest teaching hospitals. The Trust is recognised internationally for its work in liver disease and transplantation, neurosciences, cardiac, haemato-oncology, fetal medicine, stroke and major trauma. In 2013, we acquired the Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH), Orpington Hospital, and some services at Beckenham Beacon and Queen Mary’s Sidcup following the dissolution of South London Healthcare NHS Trust. We now provide care to 1.5 million patients in Southwark, Lambeth, Bromley, Bexley, Lewisham and elsewhere in south east London and parts of Kent. Over 10,000 babies are delivered by our hospitals each year, and over 750 patients come to our Emergency Departments every day. For more information, please visit the website - You can also support the work of King’s College Hospital at

5. King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering collaboration between King’s College London, and Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts.

We are one of only six AHSCs in the UK and bring together an unrivalled range and depth of clinical and research expertise, spanning both physical and mental health. Our combined strengths will drive improvements in care for patients, allowing them to benefit from breakthroughs in medical science and receive leading edge treatment at the earliest possible opportunity.

King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre brings together:

  • three of the UK’s leading NHS Foundation Trusts;
  • a university ranked in the top 20 in the world;
  • services provided across central and outer London locations, including seven mental health and physical healthcare hospitals and many community sites;
  • 4.2million patient contacts each year;
  • 36,000 staff;
  • 25,000 students;
  • a combined annual turnover of £3.1billion.

6. At King’s College Hospital we fundraise for the best in treatment, research and health education, leading-edge equipment and improving well-being in our communities. By uniting doctors, nurses, researchers and academics with our supporters and volunteers we can provide the best patient care that goes above and beyond. Find out more and support us at