Changing Lives Through Groundbreaking Science

We are independent partners of the internationally-recognized University of Chicago Medicine Digestive Diseases Center. Our unique partnership gives us a front-row seat in innovation and discovery.

We invest in bold ideas and innovation at every stage

The GI Research Foundation provides critical early funding to support novel and innovative pilot studies. Grants are awarded to senior faculty, residents, fellows, and young investigators to begin or continue their research.

We invest in facilities that advance groundbreaking treatments and cures

The result is a unique physical and technological infrastructure that enables UChicago Medicine scientists to understand the causes of digestive diseases, identify potential cures, and swiftly translate these discoveries into groundbreaking patient treatments.

We develop the next generation of vibrant research leaders

We proudly support recruiting a world-class team of physician-scientists to advance clinical trials and complement UChicago Medicine’s robust laboratory research activities.

Grant Awards

We have raised millions of dollars to change the lives of those living with digestive diseases. We see those dollars at work in profound ways: research breakthroughs, treatment advancements, innovative approaches to patient care. These all support our highest ambition—to support the discovery of cures for digestive diseases.

Infrastructure Investments

GIRF funding enabled UChicago Medicine to be the first academic institution in the United States to have a gnotobiotic metabolic cage system. This technology provides extraordinary opportunities for microbiome research.

GIRF Scholars—Salary support for junior digestive diseases researchers.

Kinga Skowron, MD is mission critical to UChicago Medicine’s rapidly growing colon and rectal surgery program. The GI Research Foundation proudly supports Dr. Skowron, who is helping define the best practices for gastrointestinal disease management across the country and around the world.

GIRF Scholars—Salary support for junior digestive diseases researchers.

Neil Sengupta, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Chicago Medicine, is investigating novel approaches to improving colonoscopy for colon cancer screening. While the procedure itself is typically done under sedation with relative ease and comfort, some patients find preparation for a colonoscopy unpleasant and difficult, not to mention complicated. Preparation requires coordination with the procedure team and gastroenterologist, all while managing life at home.

“We are currently actively investigating novel outreach methods to reach patients to guide patients through every step of their colonoscopy. For example, we are using text messages: we enroll patients who are scheduled for a colonoscopy, and we text them through every step of the process. We tell them what bowel preparation to use, when to arrive for their procedure, when to take the first half of their preparation, when to take the second half, and so on. Upgrading these methods of communication can support patients to improve their outcomes and them make it their appointments.”

Associates Board Funding—Supporting future leaders in digestive diseases research.

Thomas Cotter, MD investigates the underutilization of alcohol use disorder (AUD) pharmacotherapies and opportunities on how to increase AUD medication prescribing.

UChicago Medicine GI Fellowship Program

The GI Research Foundation invests in training the next generation of gastroenterologists and GI researchers as they go through rigorous training in clinical, research and educational rotations at a rapid pace.

Our Commitment to Research

Scientific Discovery

  • The first gene associated with Crohn’s disease (NOD2)
  • “Deep remission” in IBD
  • The immune factors related to celiac disease
  • The first animal model (mouse) of celiac disease
  • The impact of high-fat diet on the microbiome (lipids)

Clinical Breakthroughs

  • The first living donor liver transplant from parent to child
  • Lifesaving hepatitis-C positive liver transplant
  • Successful long-term home Parenteral Nutrition protocols and management of short bowel/intestinal failure
  • Population-specific colon cancer screening protocols to reduce mortality rates
  • Treatment targets that allow some IBD patients to stop medical therapy
  • International guidelines on the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease during the COVID-19 pandemic

Looking Deeper

  • Exploring the use of intestinal microbiota transfer for digestive diseases
  • Funding a groundbreaking study to discover the cause of ulcerative colitis
  • Establishing international clinical trials leading to a cure for Hepatitis C
  • Investigating the circadian clock of the gut microbiome and impact on digestive function
  • Examining hereditary screening protocols as well as precision treatment and prevention of colorectal cancer
  • Studying tissue and microbiome changes in small bowel following j-pouch surger