Events of 2016

December 20, 2016. For the second month in a row the recruitment of respondents is taking place in the cities of Almaty and Semey. 87 respondents have been recruited for the GISTAR pilot study thanks to the cooperation partners from the Kazakh Institute of Oncology and Radiology (Almaty), Regional Diagnostic Center (Almaty) and Regional Oncological Dispansary (Semey).

December 15, 2016. The regional research center of Tukums has concluded its work. During the period from March 14th till December 15th, 647 respondents have been included in the GISTAR study. The recruitment of respondents continues in the regional center of Dobele until February next year. In parallel to that, the GISTAR team is planning on to expand the project to Latgale, and  the communication with representatives of the Rezekne Municipality in regards to the further research realization options is actively taking place at this very moment.

November 8, 2016. The procedure for signing the Memorandum of Cooperation between the University of Latvia and Almaty Health Care Services Department took place. On behalf of the Almaty Health Care Services Department the Memorandum was signed by the deputy head Gulnara Utepberhenova Kulkaeva. The director of the Almaty Regional Diagnostic center on the basis of which the GISTAR regional pilot study is conducted Almas Turdybekovich Umbetbaev and collegues from the University of Latvia – Aiga Rudule and Ilze Kikuste were present during the singning procedure.

November 7-18, 2016. The GISTAR team consisting of Aiga Rudule and Ilze Kikuste headed to Kazakhstan to organize the tuition for cooperation partners for the realization of the GISTAR regional pilot study. The tuition will take place in Almaty till November 12 in the Kazakh Institute of Oncology and Radiology and in the Diagnostic centre. From November 13 the tuition will be held in the Regional Oncological Dispensary of Semey.

October 26-27, 2016. EuroNanoMed Training and 4th Review Seminar for funded projects within the EuroNanoMed 2 program was taking place in Berlin. The project coordinators or their representatives were reporting the results of their projects. Several projects involving Latvian partnership have been mentioned during the meeting – those were involving researchers from Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre and Riga Technical University.

However, particular attention was paid to the VOLGACORE project; the objective of which is development and validation of a novel, non‐invasive, easy to use and low‐cost tool for screening, early detection of gastric and colorectal cancers by using a nanosensor technology for breath analysis.

The results of the VOLGACORE project were reported by Professor of University of Latvia – M.Leja. The experts from the European Commission were eluding the project as a success story of ERA-NET program. In Israel, the research activities related to the project have been included to the list of 10 most promising research projects in the country. A poster of recognition has been exposed in the airport of Tel-Aviv.

September 9, 2016. The foundation of the Eurasian Oncological Institute (NGO) has been supported by the GISTAR research group. It is expected that in the future this Institute will conduct the GISTAR study in the Central Asian States.

September 1, 2016. After the successful training courses, the new centre in Dobele is now fully operational with 4 new respondents.

On 25th and 26th August an international GISTAR study meeting took place in University of Latvia. During the meeting, researchers of University of Latvia gave presentations on GISTAR study. Also together with international partners from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Kirghizstan and Kazakhstan future collaboration possibilities regarding realization of study in other countries were discussed. To introduce themselves with the study process, on 26th of August meeting participants also visited GISTAR regional centre in Tukums, Academic Histology laboratory and Digestive diseases centre “GASTRO”.

August 26, 2016. Memorandum of Cooperation got signed between the University of Latvia (represented by Professor Valdis Segliņš) and a NGO from Kazakhstan  «Central Asian Cancer Institute» (represented by the chairman Nurbek Igissinov).

The fields of collaboration of the Memorandum included the following: development of international contacts between Kazakhstan and Latvia, cooperation in research, including for the GISTAR project, collaborative development of innovation projects as well as facilitation of collaborative publications.

This is expected that the Memorandum is going to facilitate the collaboration between the University of Latvia and Universities and research organizations in Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries.


August 25-26, 2016 the University of Latvia will be hosting an international Gastric Cancer Prevention Working Group meeting. The meeting is organized in collaboration to International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), European Helicobacter and Microbiota Study group (EHMSG), Healthy Stomach Initiative (HSI) as well as several Universities and research institutions abroad. The local collaborators include Riga East University hospital, Digestive Diseases Centre GASTRO and Academic Histology laboratory. Guests from Lithuania, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are expected. The meeting is supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), grant from the University of Latvia as well as Sniffphone project (H2020).

August 17, 2016. University of Latvia is planning to recruit post-doctoral students for research related to the GISTAR study. The candidates will be chosen based on competition basis. For further information please visit

August 16, 2016. The future employees of the regional GISTAR centre in Dobele are undergoing tuition. Within this tuition the new team is getting acquainted with the research protocol and questionnaire. They are also familiarizing themselves with the laboratory tasks.

July 22, 2016 following the invitation from the Rector of Vitebsk State Medical University (Belarus), Professor Shchastniy Anatoliy Tadeushevich, M. Leja has been visiting the University. During the meeting M. Leja handed over to the hosts collaborative agreement between the Universities, on behalf of University of Latvia having been signed by the Rector, professor Indriķis Muižnieks. The main objective of the meeting was planning the pilot study of GISTAR in Belarus. The principal investigator in Belarus Sergej Pimanov and the Consul of Latvia in Vitebsk Uģis Skuja were participating.

June 28-29, 2016 a meeting in the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France was organized. The progress of the GISTAR as well as organization of Data Safety and Monitoring Board (DSMB) were discussed. In addition, further organization of international pilot studies was also discussed. I. Poļaka was appointed as the responsible statistician of the GISTAR study.

June 22, 2016 a lecture on gastric cancer screening that was including also information on the GISTAR study was delivered during the Cancer screening conference, in Saint-Petersburg within the White Nights Forum in oncology. Possibilities to extend the study to Russia and Kazakhstan were also discussed.

May 22, 2016. The progress of GISTAR study was reported during the Healthy Stomach Initiative (HSI) meeting, San Diego, USA.

May 20, 2016. The meeting with the representatives of Dobeles Hospital took place, within the confines of the future development planning of the GISTAR research. The discussion revolved around the research realization options in Dobele.

May 5, 2016. 150 respondents were included in the GISTAR study from the regional scientific center of Tukums. Recruitment is continuing.

April 1, 2016. The regional research center of Cesis has finished its work. Its aim was to conduct additional examinations for patiens from Vidzeme involved in the study.

March 16, 2016. In cooperation with the municipality of Tukums, the GISTAR regional center for prophylaxis and early diagnostics was launched.

March 7, 2016. The on job training for the employees of the Tukums research center took place in Riga.

March 4, 2016. Professor Maria Blanca Piazuello (University of Vanderbilt, USA) together with Assist.Prof. Sergejs Isajevs are analysing slides from GISTAR study endoscopies. Under the leadership of Prof. Piazuello a new method for subtyping intestinal metaplasia has been set-up in the Academic Histology laboratory, a collaborator to the University of Latvia within GISTAR project.

In the photo: the docent of the University of Latvia – Sergejs Isajevs and prof. Maria Blanca Piazuelo.

March 3, 2016. Prof. M. Leja reported possible options for gastric cancer prophylaxis, international guidelines (Kyoto and Maastricht V) and also the conclusions of the Riga CanCon project at the 42th Conference of the Russian Central Gastroenterology Scientific institute, which took place in Moscow.

Professor Maria Blanca Piazuelo (USA) took part in this conference, and reported the importance of detecting subtypes of intestinal metaplasia (gastric mucosal changes).

Maria Blanca Piazuelo together with the conference organizor Dmitry Bordin.

February 29 – March 1, 2016. From the initiative of the University of Latvia, the VOLGACORE group meeting of the ERA-NET project and under the priority of NanoMedicine  is taking place in Riga (the head of projectprof. H.Haick from Izrael Tehnology University TECHNION in Haifa). VOLGACORE and the participants of related projects Israel, Germany, Austria and Lithuania arrived in Riga. Participants from the Institute of Karolinska in Sweden participated in the discussions via phone conference. The development of volatile markers for early detection of gastric and colon cancers as well as the assessment of the impact of the digestive system’s microflora on measurement results is planned within the VOLGACORE Project.

In the photo: Head of Germany’ s small enterprise JLM Innovation - Jan Mitrovics demonstrates the first made prototype for portable breath test analyzers, which was finished two days ago in Germany and further will be tested in Riga.

February 16-17, 2016. Under the leadership of the International Agency for Research on cancer, the European countries gather information about the progress and results of the cancer screening programs. At the meeting, which took place in Lyon, the representative from the University of Latvia – prof. M.Leja presented the data from Latvia.

February 12, 2016. A project proposal “Pilot study for implementing gastrointestinal cancer prevention research in Ukraine” was submitted within the Joint Programme of Scientific and Technological Cooperation between Latvia and Ukraine in collaboration with Medical Center ambulatory care, St. Antipa’s Polyclinic (Ukraine, Dnepropetrovsk). Within the project it would be anticipated that necessary infrastructure would be set up as well as basis for the future cooperation would be established for the potential future development of the GISTAR project also in Ukraine.

January 19, 2016. Due to the success of the research team, GISTAR Project was acknowledged as one of the most outstanding scientifical researches of Latvia in 2015. Authors of the research were honored in a special ceremony of the Latvian Academy of  Sciencies. Photo and more detailed information from 

January 14, 2016. The rector of University of Latvia prof. Indriķis Muižnieks visited the breath test laboratory created by specialists from Austria. 

January – February 2016. Within the international project SNIFFPHONE, specialists from the Institute for Breath Research  of University of Innsbruck (Austria) came to Riga in order to conduct the analysis of chemical substunces for gastric cancer patients and individuals from the control group. The group of specialists will stay in Riga until the end of February. In the photo: Director of the Latvian Center of Oncology (Riga East Clinical University hospital) Viesturs Krūmiņš with foreign guests.

January 4, 2016. The regional research center of Cesis resumed work with the goal to conduct examinations for the patients included in the  research.


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