2020 Brought a Global Health Crisis That Has Challenged GIST Patients

We had planned this year to be in New Orleans to share valuable information about GIST Research, to enjoy fellowship with each other, and yes, to enjoy the wonderful food and music. We have rescheduled our in-person celebration for July 23-July 25, 2021. See our events page for details. Even though we weren’t together physically for our biennial Life Fest celebration and we won’t be together for GIST Awareness Day, we can unite and spread a message of hope and positive messages while raising GIST awareness across the globe. Our theme for Virtual Life Fest 2020 was #GISTHope. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, all of our renowned experts, and attendees, we had a wonderful virtual weekend!


Thank you to our Virtual Life Fest 2020 Sponsors

Virtual Life Fest 2020 Sponsors

Our theme for Virtual Life Fest and GIST Awareness Day 2020 was #GISTHope.

Please continue to share this message through out 2020. There are many ways for you to share:

  • Participate in our Virtual Walks throughout the year or an in-person the walk such as Verona, NJ on Saturday, September 26.  Start a fundraising page to invite family and friends to sponsor you in your efforts to raise funds for #GISTresearch.
  • Visit our LRG store to purchase items such as our #GISTHope Masks to wear on your walk or our GISTCook Cookbook, filled with recipes from patients, caregivers, and LRG staffers/
  • Make a donation. Any amount help!
  • Go to our GIST Awareness Day (GAD) page to see more ideas about how to raise awareness, including our creative #GISTHope rock painting project.
  • Send your stories, photos and messages of hope to Mary Garland, Director of Communications: mgarland@liferaftgroup.org. We love to publish stories about your journey to share with the community.

Virtual Life Fest 2020 Agenda (July 10-13th, 2020)

Friday, July 10th
2:00pm GIST 101 Presented by David Josephy (pre-recorded video)
4pmGIST ART Launch
Saturday, July 11th
12:00pm GIST Research Panel: Join GIST experts as they provide updates and answer questions on GIST research and new GIST therapies.

Presenters: Roman Groisberg, MD, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey; Michael Heinrich, MD, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute; Jason Sicklick, MD, Moores Cancer Center, UC of San Diego
2:00pm GIST Oncologist Panel: Our oncology and surgical GIST experts will share the latest trends, insights and surgical options, and answer questions.

Presenters: Gina D’Amato, MD, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, U of M; Arun Singh, MD, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center; Jonathan Trent, MD, PhD, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, U of M; Breelyn Wilky, MD, UCHealth Cancer Center, Anschutz Medical Campus
4:00pm Cooking Demonstration (pre-recorded video) and GIST Cookbook Launch
Sunday, July 12th
12:00pm Virtual Walk Launch (pre-recorded videos)
Monday, July 13th
9:00am - 5:00pmGAD and #GISTHope Messages
12:00pm EDTQ&A with SDH Panel of Experts
Christopher B. Weldon, MD, PhD
Boston Children’s Hospital
 Dr. Christopher Weldon Christopher Weldon, MD, PhD is Assistant in Surgery, Department of Surgery; Director, Pediatric Surgery Critical Care Fellowship and Assistant Professor of Surgery, Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. He is Board Certified in Critical Care, General Surgery, and Pediatric Surgery.

Lee Helman, MD
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Dr. Lee Helman Dr. Helman is a Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, USC, Head, Basic and Translational Research, Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases. His laboratory work focuses on the biology and treatment of rhabdomyosarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, osteosarcoma, and pediatric GIST tumors. Major areas of research include the pathophysiologic consequences of IGF signaling, identification of the molecular/biochemical determinants of the biology of sarcomas, and the application of functional genomics to identify new treatment targets.

Jonathan Trent, MD
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
Dr. Jonathan Trent Dr. Trent’s interests are in the clinical and translational research of sarcomas, direct care of sarcoma patients, and education about sarcoma. The major efforts of Dr. Trent’s research focus on understanding the mechanisms of action and resistance of imatinib in GIST and other sarcomas while striving toward improved therapeutic options.

Andrew Rosenberg, MD
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
Dr. Andrew Rosenberg Andrew Eric Rosenberg, MD is the Vice Chair, Director of Bone and Soft Tissue Pathology at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in the University of Miami.

Jason Sicklick, MD
Moores Cancer Center
Dr. Jason Sicklick Dr. Jason Sicklick is an NIH-funded investigator and Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center. He is a board-certified general surgeon and surgical oncologist specializing in the treatment of hepatobiliary diseases and sarcomas, including gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST).

Ruth Casey, PhD
Cambridge University Hospitals, UK
Dr. Ruth Casey Dr Dr Casey has a specialist clinical interest in hereditary endocrine neoplasia and endocrine cancer. Her research has focused mainly on the role of succinate dehydrogenase gene mutations in tumorigenesis and has a strong translational focus. Her interest in succinate dehydrogenase deficient tumours has led to her collaboration with PAWS GIST.

Eyal Gottlieb, MSc,PhD
Technicon – Israel Institute of Technology
Dr. Eyal GottliebDr. Gottlieb is a Professor and Director of the Cancer Metabolomics Lab at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. He is an internationally renowned expert in the field of metabolomics – measuring components of metabolism in cells under different conditions.

There will also be other special guest speakers.