The Will Rogers Institute is a national charitable health organization dedicated to the support of lung research and developing new treatments and cures for pulmonary diseases and disorders.
Since its inception in 1936, the Institute has grown dramatically in function as well as in magnitude. Originally a hospital at Saranac Lake, New York, which treated tuberculosis-stricken entertainers, the Institute now supports research programs that study debilitating pulmonary disorders at a number of prestigious academic medical centers across the country. These facilities include the University of Southern California – Keck School of Medicine, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, and the University of California, Los Angeles – Pulmonary & Critical Care Division.
The institute promotes research and helps develop treatments and cures for disorders affecting both adults and children. Some of their focus areas for children are:
There are currently over 17 million adults and 7 million children in the U.S. who suffer from asthma. The disease has been identified as one of the country’s most common and costly illnesses. Asthma is a chronic pulmonary condition in which the airways become blocked or narrowed when stimulated by allergens or other environmental triggers. Patients with asthma often experience difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath.
During an asthma attack, the lung passages constrict, making breathing more difficult. Asthma is frequently misdiagnosed and causes more hospital admissions, more visits to the emergency room, and more work and school absences than any other chronic disease.
The symptoms of asthma vary among people, but may include: wheezing, tightness in chest, shortness of breath, persistent cough, especially at night, and difficulty breathing during the day, or soon after, exercise or physical exertion.
Asthma symptoms are exacerbated by natural and man made causes. They include irritants (smoke, dust and air pollution, aerosol sprays, and strong fumes), allergens (animals, dust mites, mold, pollen, and chemicals), infections, exercise, weather, and physical and psychological changes. Asthma is manageable with proper medical care and understanding of the disease.
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections, and obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.
In the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school. Today, advances in research and medical treatments have further enhanced and extended life for children and adults with CF. Many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond.
WRI has developed a new program to partner with hospitals providing critical care to premature infants. The mission of the neonatal equipment program is to be the national leader in providing grants for the purchase of ventilator equipment and critical care pulmonary services to hospitals throughout the United States.
In 2011, the Will Rogers Institute committed $400,000 in grants for neonatal intensive care. The money will provide much needed equipment such as critical airway carts, Neopuff™ infant resuscitators, incubators, inhaled nitric oxide therapy technology and Omni Beds. Current grant applications are being accepted (through December 31, 2012).
Boys & Girls Clubs of America
The Will Rogers Institute has a relationship with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America by providing the Will Rogers Institute’s Be Healthy, Be Fit, Be Great Award to honor one club annually with a $5,000 cash award. The individual club chosen must show exemplary methods of promoting healthy and active lifestyles. One gift will be awarded for five years (2008-2012) to support the Club’s Sports & Fitness area.
The Will Rogers Institute has awarded many grants, fellowship, prizes and gifts to organizations and people engaged in and supporting healthy lifestyles and working toward cures for lung related diseases.
In 2011, Bruce Beutler, M.D., the 2010 Will Rogers Institute Annual Prize Recipient for Lung Research, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Dr. Beutler is also Chair of the Department of Genetics at The Scripps Research Institute and professor and director of the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
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