Celebrating 20 Years of the ASCO Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium

Nov 17, 2022

Symposium leaders, long-time attendees reflect on the meeting ahead of ASCO GI 2023

On January 19-21, 2023, gastrointestinal (GI) cancer specialists from around the world will gather for the 20th year of the ASCO Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, where they will engage with the latest innovative science, solution-focused strategies, and multidisciplinary approaches in GI cancer treatment, research, and care.

The GI Cancers Symposium first took place in San Francisco, CA, on January 22-24, 2004 (check out the original program). The meeting has gone from strength to strength in its 20 years, even when COVID-19 necessitated an online-only event in 2021. From 2004 to 2022, abstract submission increased by 55% and total attendance increased by 228%.

The 2023 ASCO GI Cancers Symposium, which is being offered as a hybrid in-person/online meeting, has a strong focus on the leading edge of GI science and a commitment to health equity, with keynote addresses on the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in oncology and reducing mortality in underrepresented patient populations. Attendees joining the meeting in person in San Francisco will be able to take advantage of numerous opportunities for networking and collaboration.

Learn more about the 2023 ASCO GI Cancers Symposium. Whether you are participating in person or online, follow #GI23 on social media to keep up with the practice-changing presentations and join the robust discussions about innovations in GI cancer care. Visit the ASCO Daily News to read ASCO’s official news source from the symposium, including commentary from past GI Cancers Symposium Merit Award recipients Ian Chau, MD, FRCP, Jennifer F. Tseng, MD, MPH, and Todd Bauer, MD.

The symposium’s longevity speaks to its value in the GI cancers community, with many attendees joining year after year. In the reflections that follow, past symposium leaders and frequent attendees look back and share their memories of two decades of science and progress in the field.

Reflections on 20 Years of GI Science and Collaboration

“I have been coming to the ASCO GI Cancers Symposium since I was a fellow in 2009 and was fortunate to receive a Merit Award to attend the meeting. Ever since then, I have been coming every year to learn the new updates in GI cancer and other research being conducted around the country and abroad. I have also been fortunate to serve on the Program Committee and give oral presentations at the podium. I really find it to be an indispensable meeting for anyone who works in GI cancer to be up to date with the latest clinical trials and data that is being presented.

“One of my favorite ASCO GI moments was when one of our patient advocates from the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation shared her story about her journey with cancer treatment, as well as some of the research she had conducted in collaboration with us. I recall looking around the cavernous meeting room in the convention center in San Francisco; there was not a dry eye in the audience. It reminded me of why we do what we do.”

Flavio G. Rocha, MD, FACS, FSSO, Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health and Science University

“I'm a gastroenterologist, but I love the intermixing with medical oncology, radiation oncology, and surgical oncology at ASCO GI. I love camaraderie that we see in San Francisco each year. It is the premier meeting, and that spans the spectrum from prevention to palliation that affects all of our patients. I love hearing about the latest interventions for GI cancer. I personally have participated as a speaker, a moderator, and the ASCO GI meeting organizer. Congratulations, ASCO GI, on your 20th anniversary.”

John Carethers, MD, MACP, University of Michigan

“What do I love about ASCO GI? It's an intimate setting where we learn the latest and cutting-edge science and practices, and more importantly, it's an intimate setting for networking. I always love the poster sessions and working with international oncologists of all disciplines to craft a new clinical trial concept. At first, I was the young investigator, and now I love to mentor the young investigators in this regard. Thank you for all the great memories. I truly love ASCO GI.”

Lisa Kachnic, MD, FASTRO, Columbia University

“I have been involved with the ASCO GI Cancers Symposium for years as a presenter, as a faculty member, and I am now delighted to be the chair-elect for ASCO GI 2023. My favorite thing about ASCO GI has always been the ability to see cutting-edge science, have multiple education opportunities, and most importantly, the ability to meet with my peers, network, and to be in a room full of people who are just as passionate about GI cancers as I am. I come back every single year, mostly for that connection, to remind myself about why I'm doing what I'm doing and to feel invigorated and revitalized to be able to go back to my cancer center with new ideas, new collaborations, and new trials and clinical research.”

Rachna Shroff, MD, MS, University of Arizona Cancer Center

"I'm glad to share my past experience of ASCO GI. I have attended all the GI meetings. For me, it was a must to attend this meeting every year simply for the fact that you are orientated and informed about the clinical developments in GI oncology at its best. You learn in a case-orientated way about what is best for your patient in daily clinical practice. The cases presented are clinically relevant, and they also put in the context of clinical trials that are presented in an up-to-date fashion. You also get information regarding impact on translational medicine, especially in a basic-orientated fashion. While attending this meeting, you really get up-to-date information on how to take care of your patients in clinical practice, and you learn about clinical scientists, together with all the new aspects of basic sciences translatable to the clinical daily life.

“On top of it, what I think is the most important for someone who is clinically active is that you really develop a network of international partners that can mirror with you their experience, which of course differs in different parts of the worlds quite extensively. You can network with these colleagues and even ask them questions to solve all clinical issues. This will put you in a position where you really know how you can take the best care of your patients.”

Bertram Wiedenmann, MD, Charité University Hospital

“I have so many fond memories of ASCO GI. It's really my go-to meeting of the year because it presents a focused forum with a predictable schedule that covers all of the state of the art. My favorite memory is most definitely having one of my trainee research fellows present on the podium several years back; that presentation led to some great discussions later that day and throughout the meeting that ultimately led to a collaboration and an NCI-funded project. So, it really is my favorite meeting for cutting-edge science and bench-to-bedside research, and collaborating and seeing great friends and colleagues.”

Ryan C. Fields, MD, FACS, Alvin J. Siteman Comprehensive Cancer Center, Washington University School of Medicine

“I have so much enjoyed my time being part of the Planning Committee for ASCO GI and have made great friends and worked with fantastic colleagues throughout the years. This meeting is the single most educational meeting that I attend in terms of learning about the multidisciplinary treatment of GI cancers. At this meeting, we hear about all the new and exciting data and clinical trials. The networking with like-minded colleagues from all around the world keeps me coming back to San Francisco year after year!”

Shishir K. Maithel, MD, FACS, Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University

“There are so many reasons to return to ASCO GI every year! In addition to catching up on the latest GI science and innovations, this meeting is perfect for catching up with friends, colleagues, and prior students. Many study concepts were conceived over drinks at the Poster Sessions. I have particularly fond memories of the early, more intimate, faculty dinners, where I made many friends whom I stay in touch with today.”

Laura Dawson, MD, FASTRO, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre – University Health Network, University of Toronto 

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