SOURCE: Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Global Down Syndrome Foundation

March 18, 2016 10:23 ET

Global Down Syndrome Foundation Announces $1M Awarded for Crnic Institute Research Grants and Three New Sie Center Clinics

Research Focused on the Immune System May Explain Increased Risk of Leukemia, Autoimmune Disorders, and Cognitive Impairment

DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - March 18, 2016) -  Global Down Syndrome Foundation kicked off the weekend of World Down Syndrome Day by announcing $1M in funding for eleven new studies at the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, and three new clinics at the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children's Hospital Colorado.

"One cannot overemphasize the importance of the diversity in this research," said Dr. Tom Blumenthal, Executive Director at the Crnic Institute. "The potential findings on the horizon from this research, made possible by funding from Global, may play a role in significant discoveries leading to an enhanced quality of life for those with Down syndrome that could possibly benefit the typical population as well."

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation provides outreach and raises funds for the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome on the Anschutz Medical Campus -- the first and only academic home for Down syndrome research and medical care in the United States. Global funding helps to underwrite impactful basic and clinical research benefiting people with Down syndrome. To date, Crnic Grand Challenge Grants have awarded $6.7 million in research grants to 33 labs representing over 100 investigators. Four of the 2016 grant recipients will focus on the immune system; increasing evidence suggests that malfunction of the immune system in people with Down syndrome may be linked to their higher risk for leukemia, autoimmune disorders, and cognitive impairment.

  • Brianne Bettcher, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine on the Anschutz Medical Campus, will investigate the correlation between biomarkers of inflammation, brain structure, and neuropsychological functioning in adults with Down syndrome with an emphasis on those with early stages of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Steven Maier, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neurosciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, will test the impact of anti-inflammatory therapies on learning and behavior using a mouse model of Down syndrome.
  • Christopher Porter, M.D., Associate Professor of Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children's Hospital Colorado on the Anschutz Medical Campus, will employ advanced technology to define, with unprecedented detail, the impact of trisomy 21 on the amount and function of the many types of immune cells in the human body.
  • Kelly Sullivan, Ph.D., Instructor in the Department of Pharmacology, University of Colorado School of Medicine on the Anschutz Medical Campus, will focus on a specific group of proteins, known as Interferons, which play potent and widespread roles in the immune system. This research will define the impact of modulating Interferon activity on cells from individuals with trisomy 21.

For information on the other seven grant recipients and their research please visit

"Global is incredibly proud to contribute to the Down syndrome community in both the areas of research and care. Crnic, the only academic home for research specific to Down syndrome, has already established a leadership role in Down syndrome and Alzheimer's research and will continue in that role with this research," said Michelle Sie Whitten, President and CEO of Global Down Syndrome Foundation. "The additional clinics at Sie Center will provide even more resources contributing to comprehensive care and support for patients and their families."

The Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children's Colorado, also funded by Global, has a roster of some of the most accomplished medical professionals in their field specializing in treating patients with Down syndrome. The Sie Center has a total of fourteen staff providing multidisciplinary care to over 1,110 children and adolescents with Down syndrome. To expand the services provided, the Sie Center is introducing three new clinics in 2016 -- a telemedicine clinic, an infant clinic and an education clinic.

"As an official center inside Children's Hospital Colorado -- one of the top ten in the nation -- the Sie Center is able to work with the best doctors in the fields that affect our kiddos in large numbers such as heart, pulmonary, ears-nose-throat, and oncology," said Sie Center Medical Director Dr. Francis J. Hickey. "We strive to provide impactful strategies that our patients can draw on to continually improve their lives, even after their Sie Center visit concludes. The education clinic will work with students, parents, and educators to help ensure best practices in behavior are applied consistently and that health factors aren't being overlooked."

The education clinic is remarkable in that it is the first Down syndrome education clinic embedded in a medical home with a full-time education specialist. Alissa Beck, the new Education Specialist, is tasked with working with patients to improve education performance, self-esteem, and socialization skills to thereby improve quality of life. Children and young adults with Down syndrome benefit from inclusion, differentiation, support and compassion; the education clinic will emphasize these while working with schools to maximize the student's academic experience and success.

Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition, affecting one out of every 691 live births in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because of the end of widespread institutionalization, better medical care, improved access to education and greater societal inclusion, people with Down syndrome are living longer and more productive lives, with the average life span increasing from 25 years in 1983 to 60 years today. To contribute to the Global Down Syndrome Foundation mission or learn more please visit

About Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Global Down Syndrome Foundation is a public nonprofit dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education and advocacy. Global supports two affiliates which together constitute the only academic home in the United States committed solely to research and medical care for people with Down syndrome -- the Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome and the Sie Center for Down Syndrome. Global also publishes Down Syndrome World, a national award-winning quarterly magazine. For more information, visit Follow Global Down Syndrome Foundation on Facebook & Twitter @GDSFoundation.

About the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome and the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome

The Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome is the first medical and research institute with the mission to provide the best clinical care to people with Down syndrome, and to eradicate the medical and cognitive ill effects associated with the condition. Established in 2008, the Crnic Institute is a partnership between the University of Colorado School of Medicine, the University of Colorado Boulder, and Children's Hospital Colorado. Headquartered on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, the Crnic Institute includes the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children's Hospital Colorado. It partners both locally and globally to provide life-changing research and medical care for individuals with Down syndrome. The Crnic Institute is made possible by the generous support of the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation, and relies on the Global Down Syndrome Foundation for fundraising, education, awareness, and government advocacy. It is a research and medical-based organization without political or religious affiliation or intention.

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