Shriners Hospitals for Children

Regarding Shriners and #CipherHunt

Since the most recent clue appears to lead to a Shriner temple, I think it’s prudent to remind everyone that the Shriners run twenty two children’s hospitals across North America, with most being in the US. Their specialty areas include othopaedics, burn care, spinal cord injury, and cleft lip and palate. And they offer care regardless of a family’s ability to pay for it. In America, this is a big deal, since health care costs are so high. So please, enjoy the Cipher Hunt, but if you can, consider donating.

And please, thank a Shriner. They do good work.


Boots tries to keep his pal Brewster out of trouble and safe as he teaches him about burn awareness and fire safety at home!

Produced for Shriners Hospitals for Children, I had the pleasure of directing and working with some super talented people to make this film happen. Those people include:

















[You do quite a lot of charity work. How important is giving back to you? How did you choose the various foundations you support?] It’s really, really important to give back, whether you’re in the entertainment industry or not. It’s something that everyone should do and should want to do. I have my own reasons for getting involved with the various charities that I’m a part of and I want to start something else on my own - a cause with my own vision of what I’d like to make a difference in and with my own direction. But I think it’s everyone’s responsibility to give back.” x

Hungry?  How about having breakfast with Breaking Bad’s RJ Mitte!

Albuquerque Comic Expo is pleased to announce a special event breakfast with RJ Mitte.  Tickets are $50 per person with proceeds going to Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Breakfast will be on Sunday, June 29th, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Albuquerque Comic Expo’s Panel Room F (upstairs).  Tickets for this special event will be available here at the show at the Albuquerque Comic Expo booth.

Raising Awareness for Osteogenesis Imperfecta and Helping Research and Treatment during 2015 OI Awareness Week

Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) is a rare disorder that causes bones to break easily. Children with OI may sustain broken bones from seemingly minor injuries where children without the disorder may not have a fracture. Recently a 6-year-old boy with OI in the Chicago area broke his femur while watching the Chicago Blackhawks play hockey on TV.

“Rowan and I were watching the playoff game,” Cheryl Karge, Rowan’s mom, said. “He was celebrating, running around the living room. He broke his femur because he slipped and fell on a floor cushion.” A visit two days later to Shriners Hospitals for Children® —Chicago where Rowan has been followed since infancy in the OI clinic, confirmed the fracture. A rod previously put in Rowan’s leg as part of his OI care, had worked as intended to keep the bone stable and allow the fracture to heal in place.

While Rowan is healing, his mom got tickets to allow Rowan to cheer for his Blackhawks in person. During the playoff game Tommy Hawk, the team mascot, visited Rowan, who uses a wheelchair when he has a broken bone. The family also met former player and current goaltending coach Jimmy Waite.

“Rowan’s been going to Shriners since he was a newborn. Dr. Smith and the entire team have been extremely comforting…I don’t know where we’d be without Shriners. To be so fortunate to be basically local to an OI center, I would never go anywhere else,” Karge said.

Shriners Hospitals for Children – Chicago is part of a new $6.25 million dollar OI research project funded by the National Institutes of Health. The Brittle Bone Disorders Consortium that will study OI involves Shriners hospitals in Chicago, Montreal and Portland, along with medical institutions such as Baylor University and the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

“We are enthusiastic about the opportunity to learn more about this rare disorder and share information to improve care,” Dr. Peter Smith, principal investigator at the Chicago hospital said.

According to the OI Foundation, some 50,000 Americans have Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Shriners Hospitals for Children ­– Chicago founded one of the nation’s first OI clinics in 1943, and has participated in an ongoing longitudinal study of brittle bone disease as a linked clinical research center. Currently 93 adults and children are being tracked annually over 5 years for medical procedures, treatment and testing.

“We knew from the current longitudinal study we’d want to do more research. The longitudinal study helped us fine tune some specific questions about OI, involving areas such as scoliosis, genetic testing, dental health and compression fractures in the spine,” Angela Caudill, research coordinator at Shriners Hospitals for Children - Chicago said. “We want all our families to know about the new national registry recently formed to study OI, and the upcoming opportunity for children and adults with OI to participate in research.”

The new study hopes to enroll 1,000 people nationally who have OI between all the participating testing centers. The Chicago Shriners Hospital recently began enrolling participants. Patients who enroll will participate in annual tests such as bone density and lung function, spine x-rays, as well as provide feedback through questions about their health. Interested families can begin the enrollment process for an online registry at

‘Support cells’ in brain play important role in Down syndrome

Researchers from UC Davis School of Medicine and Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California have identified a group of cells in the brain that they say plays an important role in the abnormal neuron development in Down syndrome. After developing a new model for studying the syndrome using patient-derived stem cells, the scientists also found that applying an inexpensive antibiotic to the cells appears to correct many abnormalities in the interaction between the cells and developing neurons.

The findings, which focused on support cells in the brain called astroglial cells, appear online today in Nature Communications.

“We have developed a human cellular model for studying brain development in Down syndrome that allows us to carry out detailed physiological studies and screen possible new therapies,” said Wenbin Deng, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine and principal investigator of the study. “This model is more realistic than traditional animal models because it is derived from a patient’s own cells.”

Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal cause of mild to moderate intellectual disabilities in the United States, where it occurs in one in every 691 live births. It develops when a person has three copies of the 21st chromosome instead of the normal two. While mouse models have traditionally been used in studying the genetic disorder, Deng said the animal model is inadequate because the human brain is more complicated, and much of that complexity arises from astroglia cells, the star-shaped cells that play an important role in the physical structure of the brain as well as in the transmission of nerve impulses.

“Although neurons are regarded as our ‘thinking cells,’ the astroglia have an extremely important supportive role,” said Deng. “Astroglial function is increasingly recognized as a critical factor in neuronal dysfunction in the brain, and this is the first study to show its importance in Down syndrome.”

Creating a unique human cellular model

To investigate the role of astroglia in Down syndrome, the research team took skin cells from individuals with Down syndrome and transformed them into stem cells, which are known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). The cells possess the same genetic make-up as the donor and an ability to grow into different cell types. Deng and his colleagues next induced the stem cells to develop into separate pure populations of astroglial cells and neurons. This allowed them to systematically analyze factors expressed by the astroglia and then study their effects on neuron development.

They found that a certain protein, known as S100B, is markedly increased in astroglial cells from patients with Down syndrome compared with those from healthy controls. S100B released by astroglial cells promotes harmful astroglial activation (astrogliosis) and adversely affects neurons, causing them to die at increased rates or develop in multiple dysfunctional ways.

The investigators obtained further evidence of the critical role of astroglial cells in Down syndrome by implanting the skin-cell derived astroglial cells from Down syndrome patients into mice. Those mice then developed the neuropathological phenotypes of Down syndrome, while mice implanted with Down syndrome neurons did not.

Neuroprotective effects of antibiotics

The research team also screened candidate drugs using a ‘disease-in-a-dish’ model. When they administered minocycline — a tetracycline antibiotic with anti-inflammatory properties commonly used to treat bacterial infections, acne and arthritis — many of the abnormalities in the astroglial cells were corrected and there were more healthy interactions between the astroglia and neurons compared to the control cells without the defect.

“The advent of induced pluripotent stem cell technology has created exciting new approaches to model neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases for the study of pathogenesis and for drug screening,” said David Pleasure, professor of neurology and pediatrics and a co-author of the study. “Using this technology, the study is the first to discover the critical role of astroglial cells in Down syndrome as well as identify a promising pathway for exploring how a drug such as minocycline may offer an effective way to help treat it.”

Pleasure, who is research director at Shriner’s Hospital for Children Northern California and also directs the Institute for Pediatric Regenerative Medicine, noted that considerable research interest has arisen about the use of minocycline for diseases of the central nervous system because of the increasing evidence about its neuroprotective effects. Unlike many drugs, minocycline can cross from the bloodstream into the brain so that it can act on the astroglial cells. The drug has never been tested as a treatment for Down syndrome, and both Pleasure and Deng cautioned that its safety and efficacy will require clinical trials in people with Down syndrome.

Currently, Deng’s laboratory is conducting additional preclinical studies using the human-derived stem cells from Down syndrome patients and mouse models to determine whether cellular and behavioral abnormalities can be improved with minocycline therapy and other candidate drugs.

“The abnormalities we identified occur in the early stages of Down syndrome,” said Deng. “While much more research is needed, it is exciting to consider that pharmacological intervention in these cellular processes might help slow or even prevent disease progression.”

(Image: iStockphoto)

Thought I’d share some more upbeat (albeit a bit old) news about James Rolfe.

Recently he hosted an auction where all of the money would be donated to The Shriner’s Children’s Hospital, an organization that means a lot to him since they helped his daughter when she was going through complications after she was born. He ended up raising $20,000. You can see the results here.

Just thought that people would like to hear some more positive news about him since so much of it is about this nontroversy.

@takashi0, @danguy96, @theswedishelf, thought maybe you’d be interested in this since I know you all seem to be a fan of James.


We’ve featured so many awesome custom guitars here over the years that it’s about time we put together a Geyser of Awesome band. The newest member would play this fantastic Dashcaster, a one-of-a-kind custom electric guitar carved to look jut like Rainbow Dash, pegasus pony from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.The Dashcaster was created by DeviantArtist engineermk2004. The body is hand-carved basswood painted with acrylics and covered in clear coat, the neck is made of maple, and the fretboard is rosewood.

The Dashcaster is currently up for auction on Ebay. All proceeds will go to the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

[via Neatorama]


Shriners Hospitals for Children Open Preview

Since it’s officially my birthday, I’d like to use this day to ask people to make a donation to Shriner’s Hospital for Children at because I would not be turning 34 without the doctors and nurses there. I had a few life-threatening complications early on and my years under Shriner’s care ensured my survival today. I’ve had almost two dozen surgeries and most of them were done by Shriner’s doctors. Patients don’t pay for their medical care there and the hospitals are dependent on donations. I figured I would use turning 34 as a reason to say hey, I wouldn’t have survived this long without these people. My hospitals were in Salt Lake City and St. Louis at different stages in my life, so go look for ways to volunteer too. Happy birthday to me! Adults with Arthrogryposis can indeed thrive in this world! <3

Please tip your IHOP servers on March 3

March 3 is Free Pancake Day. In lieu of paying for pancakes, IHOP encourages its customers to donate to Shriner’s Children’s Hospital. It’s also a day where the servers bust their asses slinging pancakes for little to no money because everyone comes in for free pancakes.

Please remember to tip your servers at least the value of the free pancakes and be sure to donate to a good cause.

Please reblog to spread the word. IHOP’S everywhere would appreciate it.

EDIT: ok so they may actually go to different hospitals (in my area it’s Shriner’s) but still they go to children’s hospitals!