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John Ritter Foundation Selected to Be a Charity of the 2012 ING NYC Marathon

Posted on Wednesday, April 11th, 2012, by with Comments Off

The John Ritter Foundation (JRF) announced it was selected as an official charity of the 2012 ING New York City Marathon to take place on Sunday, November 4, 2012.  What a great opportunity to increase awareness of thoracic aortic disease, as well as raise funds to support education and research!

Watkins “Zeddie” Little (Ridiculously Photogenic Guy) shared the good news during his interview on Good Morning America (GMA) this a.m.  Watkins will also run the marathon with Team Ritter.  Check out Watkins’ GMA interview here.

JRF is currently recruiting runners to join Team Ritter.  For more information or to sponsor the team, please read the announcement on the JRF website.  Team members will be announced on May 1, 2012.

If you are not a runner but would like to support Team Ritter, click here.  Donations to JRF can also be made through the JRF website

Congratulations, John Ritter Foundation!!

Dr. Dianna Milewicz and Amy Yasbeck to Be Interviewed on Robin Craig LIVE

Posted on Friday, April 6th, 2012, by with Comments Off

On Tuesday, April 10, 2012, Dr. Dianna Milewicz and Amy Yasbeck will be phone guests on Robin Craig LIVE at 9:00 p.m. Central time (7:00 p.m. Pacific / 10:00 p.m. Eastern). They will discuss thoracic aortic dissection, the John Ritter Research Program, the John Ritter Foundation, and more. To watch the show, log on to and click the “TV Show” tab. The show airs in lieu of the photo montage above the chat room. If you log on early, hit “Refresh” until the show is live. Viewers will be able to join the conversation via a live interactive chat room.

Robin Craig LIVE is a weekly live web TV show that broadcasts on (viewers only need a computer and Internet access to watch). This show, in its third year of production, is produced and hosted by Robin Craig, a 3-time Emmy Award-Winning TV Producer. It airs at 9:00 p.m. Central time (7:00 p.m. Pacific / 10:00 p.m. Eastern) on Tuesday evenings. Robin was widowed in 2005 and this show, while covering an array of topics, is geared to help the widowed and grieving.

John Ritter Research Program and UT Physicians Launch Aortic Disease Clinic

Posted on Monday, March 12th, 2012, by with Comments Off

The John Ritter Research Program is pleased to announce the opening of the Aortic Disease Clinic as a collaborative partnership with UT Physicians Cardiology, Medical Genetics, and Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery.  The clinic’s mission is to provide expert risk assessment, personalized management and integrated clinical care for individuals and families with aortic aneurysms and aortic dissections, along with other vascular diseases and cardiac valve abnormalities.

The clinic, which opened on February 22, 2012, focuses on patients with thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections, congenital vascular disorders including bicuspid aortic valve, and other congenital vasculopathies.  The clinic offers long-term cardiology follow-up for patients with imaging surveillance, same-day interpretation of echocardiograms, and timely referrals for surgery or medical genetics evaluation and genetic counseling as appropriate.

Appointments can be made by calling (832) 325-7211.

The John Ritter Research Program’s Work Is Highlighted by the National Marfan Foundation

Posted on Tuesday, February 14th, 2012, by with Comments Off

The Winter 2012 edition of the National Marfan Foundation newsletter, Connective Issues, included a story on the collaborative research finding of an association with a common genetic variant in the population that predisposes people to thoracic aortic aneurysms (  Click here for the letter published in Nature Genetics.  This finding was announced previously on our website here.

Connective Issues also included a story on what we know about the genetic predisposition to thoracic aortic aneurysm or dissection in the absence of other syndromes, known as familial thoracic aortic aneurysm or dissection – FTAAD (  Read it to hear what the Director of our program, Dr. Dianna M. Milewicz, has to say about what we know today.

Thank you, National Marfan Foundation, for sharing this information with your readers!

Family Health History, Research, and the Holidays

Posted on Friday, December 23rd, 2011, by with Comments Off

Family gatherings over the holidays are perfect for collecting important family medical history information.  Read more here.  Now is also the perfect time to discuss enrolling in research.  Please tell your family about the research we are doing at the John Ritter Research Program.

Sofia Gutierrez Brain Aneurysm Awareness Fund Raiser Event Was a Wonderful Success

Posted on Friday, December 16th, 2011, by with Comments Off

The community really turned out to support the Gutierrez family for this event.  Local businesses sold products and food, offered wellness checks and flu shots, and sponsored fun activities for kids.  The Blood Alliance was there accepting blood donations, and the fire department was on hand with fire engines, including a pink engine supporting breast cancer awareness and signed by hundreds of people.  A local helicopter emergency service got a lot of attention when it flew in and landed nearby for people to view.  There was an honor guard, a children’s choir, a live band, and a luminary ceremony.  A silent auction was also held.  All proceeds benefited the Sofia Alejandra Gutierrez Brain Aneurysm Research Fund at the John Ritter Research Program at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston. 

Thank you, Monica and Omar Gutierrez, for planning and organizing this event, for your support of the research being done on intracranial aneurysms at the John Ritter Research Program, and for your tireless commitment to increasing public awareness that some individuals may be predisposed to these aneurysms based on their family history.

ACC/AHA Pocket Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Patients with Thoracic Aortic Disease Now Available to Healthcare Providers

Posted on Monday, December 12th, 2011, by with Comments Off

The American College of Cardiology (ACC)/American Heart Association (AHA) Pocket Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Patients with Thoracic Aortic Disease  are now available to physicians and other healthcare providers free of charge thanks to the Thoracic Aortic Disease (TAD) Coalition and a grant from W.L. Gore & Associates.  The 64-page booklet is based on the guidelines published in March 2010.

“It is vital that the guidelines, which were developed by nine leading medical associations, be incorporated into clinical practice because too many patients with aortic disease do not know they are at risk of a potentially fatal aortic dissection,” said Dianna Milewicz, MD, PhD, Director of the John Ritter Research Program at UTHealth.

Read more here.

Common genetic variants increase risk of aortic dissection

Posted on Monday, September 12th, 2011, by with Comments Off

Dianna Milewicz, M.D., Ph.D. director of the John Ritter Research Program, and her team of researchers at UTHealth, along with researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, published the discovery of common genetic variants which predispose individuals to thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissection (TAAD) in the absence of a family history of the disease (called sporadic TAAD) or a genetic syndrome which causes TAAD.  The variants are located in the same region on chromosome 15 as the FBN1 gene; changes (mutations) in FBN1 cause Marfan syndrome.  The researchers hope an increased understanding of how mutations and variants in FBN1 lead to thoracic aortic disease will ultimately result in effective treatments for individuals with sporadic TAAD.


‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Features Patient With Aortic Dissection

Posted on Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011, by with Comments Off

Last week’s episode of ABC’s popular television show, Grey’s Anatomy, featured a patient who came to the ER with chest pain.  His condition doesn’t seem serious until he suddenly takes a turn for the worse and they discover his aorta is dissecting.  The show’s website added some great information about aortic dissections in connection with this episode, helping to spread the word about aortic disease.

Check out the information here

The Dallas Morning News Runs Story on Aortic Disease Awareness

Posted on Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011, by with Comments Off

The Dallas Morning News interviewed Amy Yasbeck and Dr. Dianna Milewicz to help get the word out that aortic disease isn’t a “death sentence.”  The awareness created by Amy’s efforts and new research is helping to save lives.  Just ask Aaron Roberts, a man who survived aortic dissection.




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