The 2023 Digestive Health Foundation Gala raised $1.6 million to further its mission to fund vital medical research at the Northwestern Medicine Digestive Health Center (DHC) aimed at improving the quality of life for individuals with digestive disease and their families. The June 3 event at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, highlighted how the researchers and physician scientists at the DHC are leveraging these funds to continue to improve and advance treatments for digestive health. The additional $1.6 million raised at this year’s gala brought the amount raised by DHF since its inception in 2015 to nearly $20 million.

The evening was emceed by WGN’s Brónagh Tumulty and featured John E. Pandolfino, MD, MSCI, Hans Popper Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology at Northwestern Medicine; and Rajesh N. Keswani, MD, MS, Director of Endoscopy and Director of Quality at the Digestive Health Center and Northwestern Associate Professor of Medicine, Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Drs. Pandolfino and Keswani spoke about how funding from the Digestive Health Foundation is impacting their work, specifically how the physicians at the DHC are working in tandem with AI to transform the future of gastronenterology.

Live auction highlights featured an epic journey through South Africa including tours of Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula, the Cape winelands, and the Sabi Sand Nature Reserve; and a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience from Venice to Paris aboard the luxurious Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, A Belmond Train. Other fabulous items included a New York Fashion Week experience at Christian Siriano and Naeem Khan’s shows; a private in-home dinner with famed Aba Chicago Chef, CJ Jacobson; a Chicago summer concert package with premium tickets to Beyoncé, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and PINK; and private villas in Riviera Maya and the British Virgin Islands.

Funds raised will be used to continue to support studies by the world-class physician scientists at Northwestern Medicine’s Digestive Health Center as well as groundbreaking initiatives changing the future of digestive care, including: the DHF BioRepository in Gastroenterology and Hepatology, a blood and tissue bank used for digestive health research launched with a signature grant award from the Digestive Health Foundation and only one of a few resources of its kind in the world ; the Artificial Intelligence in Mathematics in Gastroenterology (AIM-GI) project which uses AI and virtual organs to improve the diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases; and the use of nano-string technology to enable the study of inflammatory and immune cells in various GI disorders.

One in five people will be diagnosed with digestive health disorders ranging from colorectal and pancreatic cancers to esophageal cancer and disorders, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, liver diseases such as hepatitis, and others. Since its inception almost eight years ago, the Digestive Health Foundation has raised nearly $20 million and funded 82 research studies aimed at transforming digestive disease into digestive health for patients and their families.