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Volunteer Spotlight – Sarah Giga

Sarah and Mike Giga and Julie Rose

Sarah and Mike Giga, and Julie Rose

This month, we would like to recognize Sarah Giga, a long time RIS Board member and passionate leader. Sarah has been engaged with RIS from the beginning as a friend of Karen Wyckoff’s big brother, Peter. Sarah was a charter member of the Board of Directors.

Over a dozen years she served in many positions including as Vice-President of the board. She has been instrumental in facilitating Rein in Sarcoma strategic planning process and the development of two organizational long term plans. Sarah currently serves as a key member of our Talent and Resources (personnel) Committee and has been closely involved in the hiring, evaluating, and support our staff, including our new Executive Director, Janelle Calhoun.

Sarah helped with our signature event, Party in the Park, for many years as our merchandise chair and also helped to secure our ice cream vendor, which we have continued to utilize each year. To help our outreach efforts, Sarah created our Facebook page over six years ago; it has since grown to over 2,000 followers.

In real life, Sarah works for Children’s Hospitals and Clinics and Minnesota and with her husband, Mike, lives in Roseville. We thank Sarah for her time, passion, wisdom, and dedication to RIS!

2017 RIS Research Grants Announced

Rein in Sarcoma Board member and Research Committee Chair, Dr. Larry Seymour made a major announcement at our Fall Fundraiser in Minneapolis of the 2017 awarding of $65,000 in new sarcoma research grants to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic and SARC in Michigan. The evening also included a new commitment to increase sarcoma research funding at the University of Minnesota to over $140,000 in 2018.


Dr. Maran Avudaiappan

Mayo Clinic:

Upon the review and recommendations of the Rein in Sarcoma Research Committee to the Board of Directors, RIS committed a $25,000 to Mayo Clinic for a research “Targeting Autophagy as a Therapeutic Strategy in Osteosarcoma” with principal investigator Avudaiappan Maran, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Orthopedics and Biomedical Engineering; and Co-investigator: Michael J. Yaszemski, M.D., Ph.D, Professor of Orthopedics and Biomedical Engineering.

Dr. Kris Ann Schultz

Children's Hospitals and Clinics:

In addition Rein in Sarcoma is awarding Children’s Hospitals and Clinics a grant of $15,000 on “Improving outcomes for DICER1 related sarcomas” with principal investigators Kris Ann Schultz, MD Pediatric Oncologist and Co- Investigator D. Ashley Hill, MD.

SARC logo


RIS also committed $25,000 over five years to SARC (Sarcoma Alliance for Research through Collaboration) in Ann Arbor, Michigan in support of four core SPORE projects and based continued funding if funded by National Institute of Health (NIH). The projects are:

Project 1: Exploiting the Ability of Radiation Therapy to Activate the Immune System to Prevent Metastasis in Soft Tissue Sarcoma
Project 2: NF-1 Associated Nerve Sheath Tumors: Biology, Therapies, Prevention
Project 3: Developing Novel Therapies for the Treatment of Epithelioid Hemangioendothelioma
Project 4: Targeting Misassembled mSWI/SNF (BAF) Complexes in Human Synovial Sarcoma

NIH SPORE (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence) grants are multi-million dollar grants designed to bring cutting edge cancer research to the bedside within five years. If approved by the NIH in 2018, the research will be conducted by several major medical research institutions across the country. RIS commitments beyond 2017 are contingent upon NIH SPORE funding in 2018. Read information about the current Sarcoma SPORE project at SARC.


These three grants are a significant milestone in the growth and development of Rein in Sarcoma and are the first sarcoma research grants beyond the University of Minnesota, to which RIS remains strongly committed.

Dr. Katie Dusenbery Receives First Annual Excellence in Education Award

The Red Flags Committee, a team of volunteers committed to advancing the educational mission of Rein in Sarcoma, decided it was important to celebrate those who have helped forward our mission to educate doctors about sarcoma. The first award was given out at the Fall Fundraiser and it was obvious to all of us who should be the first recipient.

Dusenbery, KatieDr. Katie Dusenbery was a dedicated charter Board member. Over the years, she conceived of and acted as “Dean of the Sarcoma Mini-Medical School”, hosted Donor Dinners, and co-chaired our first Fall Fundraiser last year. In 2009, she conceived of what was to become RIS’s most impactful educational program, the Jan Maudlin Sarcoma Scholars.

Dr. Dusenbery had an idea to create a scholarship as a way to educate highly talented, motivated University of Minnesota medical students about sarcoma cancers and have them to educate their classmates. In 2009, the first Sarcoma Scholar was chosen. Since that time there have been 32 scholars, the program has expanded to the Mayo Clinic as well. This year we have four scholars from the University and two from Mayo. Dr. Okuno at Mayo supervises the scholars there. Dr. Dusenbery created a sarcoma scholar “boot camp” that she and Dr. Okuno run jointly. It is a wonderful program that starts their scholar year with a super infusion of knowledge.Read More

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