GI Research Foundation Details 2024 Annual Ball

The event raises more than $1 million annually for digestive disease research. 

CHICAGO, May 9, 2024 ( – With more than 500 people expected, this year’s GI Research Foundation Annual Ball will be one of the largest fundraisers supporting medical research in Chicago. The event brings in more than $1 million each year to support digestive disease research – including treatments for Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and many cancers – and the highly specialized doctors at the University of Chicago. The GI Research Foundation has provided more than $25 million in research support in the last five years.

The Ball will be Saturday, June 1, at the Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago with entertainment by comedian and Saturday Night Live alum Kevin Nealon and music by The Gold Coast All Stars. Media are invited to attend.

“Money raised at the Ball means more options and improved care – things like emerging treatments for future patients, new imaging techniques, and a better understanding of the diseases that too many people face,” said Jennifer Riback, co-chair of the 2024 Ball. “The research that is coming out not only helps patients in Chicago but will spread through medicine practices all over the world.”

Riback and her co-chair, Amy Goldman have known each other for more than a decade. They became fast friends after their daughters met at camp and after a year as “COVID buddies” with their families in a pod.

“The work that we support at the University of Chicago and other institutions around the country is life-changing,” Goldman said. “And the rigorous scientific review process that the GI Research Foundation uses for providing funding gives us all confidence that we are supporting the most promising projects and having the highest impact.”

Riback is Co-Owner at Lice Clinics of America – North Shore & Barrington, and she is a member of the North Shore Auxiliary Board of JCFS Chicago. Her husband, Ben, is a member of the GI Research Foundation Board of Directors and a Managing Partner at William Blair, a global private wealth management firm.

Goldman is a member of the North Shore Auxiliary Board of JCFS Chicago and previously launched the Walk 4 Children, which raised money for pediatric brain tumor research. Her husband, Jeff, is Vice President of Carol’s Cookies, a North Shore mainstay that bakes, sells, and delivers more than 11 million cookies per year. In-laws Peter and Carol Goldman, who founded Carol’s Cookies 45 years ago and is the company’s President, have been involved with the GI Research Foundation for more than 25 years. Peter currently serves on the foundation’s Board of Directors.

Riback and Goldman both have family members who are living with digestive diseases. After years of what she called subpar care from other doctors, Riback has been treated by Dr. David Rubin since 2011. Rubin is the Joseph B. Kirsner Professor of Medicine and Director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at the University of Chicago. He is also the GI Research Foundation’s Senior Scientific Advisor.

“He changed my life and the life of my family,” said Riback, who has two children who have also been diagnosed with digestive diseases. “Thanks to him and the kind of research supported by the GI Research Foundation, it’s encouraging to know that my kids will benefit from these improvements. I’m confident that treatments, preventions, and cures are all on their way.” Riback and her family were featured in the 2023 Annual Ball patient video

In Goldman’s family, meanwhile, her daughter and husband are currently in remission from celiac disease and Crohn’s disease. “We’re having a smooth ride after a very bumpy road,” Goldman said. “The research has impacted our lives in such positive ways over the last 20 years.”

Recent projects at the University of Chicago supported by the GI Research Foundation include: 


About the GI Research Foundation

The GI Research Foundation was founded in 1961 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’s Digestive Diseases Center, which is supported by the foundation, is internationally recognized for research-driven medicine and its team of highly specialized physicians. For more information, see:


About the University of Chicago Digestive Diseases Center

The Digestive Diseases Center at the University of Chicago Medicine is a collaborative, multidisciplinary network of physicians, researchers, and affiliated health professionals who share a legacy of innovation and a common purpose: to improve the lives of patients who suffer from digestive diseases. For more information, see: