Currently Funded Research Grants

The John Ritter Research Program in Aortic and Vascular Diseases

Principal Investigator: Dianna Milewicz, MD, PhD

Awarded funds: Over $1,000,000 to date

Since 2010, The John Ritter Foundation has provided funding and support for The John Ritter Research Program (JRRP), an independent research project conducted out of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston under the direction of Dr. Dianna Milewicz. The focus of JRRP is to discover more genes that cause thoracic aortic aneurysm or dissection, understand the genetic and environmental risk factors for developing thoracic aortic disease, and collect data on other symptoms associated with thoracic aortic disease.

A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial of Exercise in Aortic Dissection Survivors

Principal Investigator: Siddharth Prakash, MD, PhD

Awarded funds: $90,000

Patients frequently ask about what exercises may be safe and beneficial for patients who are living with aortic aneurysms or dissections. We know that sudden increases in blood pressure during exercise can trigger aortic dissection or rupture, but the precise nature of these risks are not well understood. There are no evidence-based guidelines to help answer these questions. The primary goal of this study is to test the safety and mental health benefits of a guided exercise program for people who survived an acute aortic dissection. The long-term goal of this research is to develop new guidelines for exercise and daily activities that promote the safety and well-being of all thoracic aortic dissection patients.

Previously Funded Research Grants

Mental Health in Aortic Aneurysm and Dissection (MHAAD) Initiative: resource development and evaluation

Principal Investigators: Gretchen MacCarrick, MS, CGC and Jennifer Rio, MS, CGC

Awarded funds: $65,000

Patients who have experienced aortic dissection or who are at risk of aortic dissection often experience diverse emotional reactions due to their health status. Studies have reported up to about 1/3 of patients experience isolation, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder during their journey with aortic disease. This project will create a mental health book resource that will be distributed to interested cardiology/surgical groups as well as made available online. Patient feedback will be collected to see what is helpful. Patient who agree will be consented to take part in a second part of the study that includes a 10- minute survey on emotional, physical, and social well-being. We will also ask about if interventions addressed in the book were accessed and/or what the barriers there were to getting help.

Derivation of a Clinical Decision Rule for the Diagnosis of Acute Aortic Syndrome

Principal Investigators: Sandra Schneider, MD, FACEP and Robert Ohle M.Sc., M.A., MBBCh, FRCPC

Awarded funds: $286,814

The John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health partnered with The American College of Emergency Physicians on a two-year research project designed to derive the “RITTER SCORE,” a clinical decision rule for diagnosing Acute Aortic Dissection in the emergency department. Acute aortic dissection involves blood leaking into the wall of the aorta, the major artery that supplies blood to the entire body. The chance of death from aortic dissection increases 2% per hour reaching 90% if undiagnosed. Currently 1 in 4 cases of acute aortic dissections are missed upon first presentation to a healthcare provider. The goal of this two-year study will retrospectively derive a clinical decision rule, the “RITTER SCORE,” for emergency department (ED) patients presenting with symptoms that are concerning for Acute Aortic Dissection.