A Life Free From Digestive Disease

Seventy million Americans live with a digestive disease. The GI Research Foundation is at the forefront of science and discovery, partnering with the nationally-ranked University of Chicago Medicine Digestive Diseases Center to transform their lives.

History of GI Research Foundation

In 1961, the GI Research Foundation was founded by grateful patients and friends of the late Dr. Joseph B. Kirsner, a pioneer in gastroenterology who devoted his life to medicine, teaching, and patient care. Today, the University of Chicago Medicine Digestive Diseases Center is internationally recognized for research-driven medicine and its team of highly specialized physicians.

Inspired by Dr. Kirsner’s vision, the GI Research Foundation helps ensure the UChicago Digestive Diseases Center remains at the forefront of innovation and personalized care.

“Few if any physicians have had a broader and more positive impact than Joe Kirsner on thousands of patients, students and professional colleagues. His legacy at the University of Chicago will persist for generations.”

Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD
Dean of the Division of the Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine and Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs at the University of Chicago

Our Mission

The GI Research Foundation (GIRF) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds to support the physicians and scientists at the University of Chicago Medicine Digestive Diseases Center in their efforts to provide outstanding care, train future leaders, and perform innovative clinical and laboratory research in order to treat, cure, and prevent digestive diseases.

Board of Directors

The GI Research Foundation Board of Directors is a group of passionate individuals, committed to providing relief and hope for patients and their families suffering from digestive diseases.

Yekaterina Chudnovsky
President

Howard A. Grill*
Vice President of Finance
CFO
The Alter Group

Mark de Souza
Vice President of Fundraising
CEO, Board Member
Penrose TherapeuTx

Biana Lanson, MD
Vice President of Fundraising
Otolaryngologist, Partner
Ear Nose and Throat Center, LLP

Mark A. Waldeck
Vice President of Marketing
Office President
CRC Group – Chicago

Benjamin Pogofsky

Vice President of
Board Development
Executive Director
J.P. Morgan

Murray Alscher
Shareholder
DLN Real Estate Advisors

Scott Attar
Owner
AMP Outdoor Billboard Advertising

Eric Berlin*
Partner
Dentons US LLP
Michael P. Cogan*
Partner
Cogan & Power, P.C.

Russell D. Cohen, MD
Director, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center
University of Chicago Medicine

Beatrice G. Crain +
Steven R. Davidson*
Partner
Denton’s

Jeffrey A. Fine
Partner
Kirkland and Ellis, LLP

Peter D. Goldman
President
Reed-Union Corporation

Heidi Henderson
Associate
J.P. Morgan Securities

Karyn Hurwich

Matthew Lebenson
Finance Director

Jonathan Merel
Founder and Managing Principal
Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C.

Brad Peterson*
EVP, Production Analytics & Strategy
Guaranteed Rate

Benjamin S. Riback
Managing Director
BMO Capital Markets

Kathryn Karmin Shafer
Principal
Thomas Shafer Architects LLC

Seymour Taxman
Founder and CEO
The Taxman Corporation

* Past President
+ Deceased

Join the Board

Learn how you can actively support our mission to prevent, treat, and cure digestive diseases.

Scientific Advisors

The GI Research Foundation’s Scientific Advisors counsel the Board of Directors. Through their guidance, GIRF is proud to champion breakthroughs in understanding, treating, and curing digestive diseases.

David T. Rubin, MD

Lead Scientific Advisor

Joseph B. Kirsner Professor of Medicine

Chief, Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition

Co-Director, Digestive Diseases Center

University of Chicago Medicine

Eugene B. Chang, MD

Martin Boyer Professor, Department of Medicine

Director, Digestive Diseases Research Core Center

University of Chicago Medicine

Michael R. Charlton, MBBS

Professor of Medicine

Director, Center for Liver Diseases

Co-Director, Transplant Institute

University of Chicago Medicine

Advisory Council

The Advisory Council assists in the growth of the GI Research Foundation by providing advice and support to the Board of Directors.

Joseph Bernstein
Senior Director, Financial and Grant
Services, Division of the Humanities, Administration University of Chicago
Ronald Borden
Owner
Ronald J. Borden & Company, Ltd
Erika Higgins
PhD Candidate
Executive Master’s in Clinical Quality, Safety & Leadership
Georgetown University

Nitin Jaitly
Managing Director of Corporate Strategy, Program & Project Management Servicing
(IN)Strategy

Amy Tara Koch
Author and Journalist

Ralph Kaufmann
Retired

Erica Matagrano
Senior Specialty Representative
Amgen
Kelly O’Connor
Co-Founder and President
StageLight Group
Hussain Rizvi
Program Consultant
AB Initio
B.H. Gerald Rogers, MD
Gastroenterology Specialist
University of Chicago Medicine

Aaron Rosdal
Vice President
Capital Deployment, Prologis

David A. Rubin

Spencer G. Sachs
Investment Analyst
Revolution Enterprises

Gary Singer
Chief Strategy Officer
Kobre & Kim

Hilary Wolfe
Senior Managing Director
Northern Trust

Elijah Wreh
Vice Chairman & Board Director
CommStar Credit Union

Associates Board

Since 1997, the young professionals of the Associates Board have raised more than $500,000 to fund groundbreaking research by digestive disease scientists at the start of their career.

Brad Peterson
President

Sheetal Shah
Vice President/Secretary

Jordan Hirsch
Treasurer

Lauren Martin
Vice President of Fundraising

Katie Waldeck
Vice President of Fundraising

Carly Hennig
Vice President of Grant Funding

Katie Bryan
Vice President of Membership/Marketing/Social Media

Shelley Brown

Kasey Chronis

Courtney Cebula

Noa Cleveland

Ann Marie Czcerwinski

Nick Dinardi

Kyle Dolan

Rachael Eagle

Kurt Dziama

Sarah Goldberg

Rachel Gross

Jaclyn Hanley

Rachel Hendee

Mike Jesselson

Grace Kelmer

Gordon Lerman

Joan Lines

Jacqueline Lopez

Julie McDermott-Hagerty

Emily Reid

Betsy Staar

Brett Tolpin

Scientific Advisors

Sushila Dalal, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition

The University of Chicago Medicine

Ashley Sidebottom, PhD

Post-Doctoral Scholar, Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition

The University of Chicago Medicine

Executive Staff

Deborah Barnard
Director of Major Gifts
dbarnard@girf.org

Brittany Zelwin
Fundraising Officer
bzelwin@girf.org

Silver Hannon
Development Associate
shannon@girf.org

Farrah Watson
Director of Finance
fwatson@girf.org