A Little Time and a Keyboard: Gastro-Intestinal Research Foundation Celebrates 60 Years and Raises Vital Funds During Annual Ball

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Gastro-Intestinal Research Foundation Celebrates 60 Years and Raises Vital Funds During Annual Ball

Gastro-Intestinal Research Foundation Celebrates 60 Years and Raises Vital Funds During Annual Ball



Gastro-Intestinal Research Foundation Raises $1,000,000+ in Support of the University of Chicago Medicine Digestive Diseases Center

Every year, the Gastro-Intestinal Research Foundation brings supporters together during an Annual Ball raising vital funds to assist the research of physician-scientists of the University of Chicago Medicine Digestive Diseases Center. While being held virtually for the second year in the row, the GIRF Annual Ball offered a moving and unforgettable experience while adapting to the times.

GI Research Foundation marks 60 years and raises over $1,000,000 to support the Digestive Diseases Center.
GI Research Foundation marks 60 years and raises over $1,000,000
to support the Digestive Diseases Center.

I spoke to Karyn Hurwich of GIRF to learn more about this year's event and the role of the Gastro-Intestinal Research Foundation in supporting the crucial work of the Digestive Diseases Center of University of Chicago. This center is key in connecting the medical disciplines that treat patients with digestive diseases and cancers. By bringing disciplines such as colorectal oncology and colorectal surgery under one umbrella, doctors are better able to direct patients on the correct path. Additionally, the center is more capable of making remarkable strides in research further helping those with digestive diseases.

Every year, the GIRF Annual Ball is both a celebration of the important work doctors at the Digestive Diseases Center do and a way to show support for their research. Each ball features world class  entertainment and this year was not any different. Guests to the 2021 ball enjoyed spectacular entertainment from Emmy-award winning mentalist Oz Pearlman. Musical entertainment featured Maggie Speaks.

Award recipient Bee Crain with Jennifer Sutton-Brieva. Image credit GIRF.
Award recipient Bee Crain with Jennifer Sutton-Brieva. Image credit GIRF.

Another highlight of the event included awarding Beatrice G. Crain of the Crain-Maling Foundation and Sy and Nancy Taxman of the Taxman Family Foundation with inaugural awards -- the Joseph B. Kirsner Award and the Partners in Science Award. Beatrice G. Crain and Sy and Nancy Taxman are longtime supporters of GIRF.

The virtual nature of this year's ball allowed supporters to join from anywhere in the country. While the ball did not have the same feel as an in person event, the ability for people from all over the country to join added an extra level of support to the work of GIRF and the researchers at the Digestive Diseases Center.

Each year, the stories of patients and researchers add touching moments to the event as well as present the depth and significance of the Digestive Diseases Center's research. Special speakers included University of Chicago Medicine patient Heidi Henderson who shared about her journey living with ulcerative colitis. GIRF scientist advisors David T. Rubin, MD, Eugene B. Chang, MD, and Michael R. Charlton, MBBS gave a special presentation. Researcher Sajan Nagpal, MD who is researching earlier detection of pancreatic cancer also presented as did A. Murat Meren, PhD, who is utilizing computer science to better understand the microbiome.

Sy Taxman with LeeAnn Trotter. Image credit GIRF.
Sy Taxman with LeeAnn Trotter. Image credit GIRF.

These personal presentations are very impactful and highlight the important work being done to prevent, cure and treat digestive diseases. So many of us are plagued by digestive diseases each and every day. This personal connection is something so many of us can relate to. Work done at the Digestive Diseases Center helps improve the quality of life and health outcomes of patients with digestive diseases and no doubt touches many of us. During this year's ball, GIRF raised an amazing $1,000,000+ that will help improve outcomes for patients suffering from digestive diseases.

Gastro-Intestinal Research Foundation does have other fun fundraisers throughout the year. To keep up-to-date, you can follow GIRF on Facebook or sign up for a newsletter. Donations are accepted and very much appreciated throughout the year. GIRF is a worthy cause doing fantastic work that impacts lives throughout the world. My family is personally affected by digestive diseases, so we are very appreciative of the work GIRF does in funding research.


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