Guilds Support Research on Many Fronts

2010 Fall Feature

Members of the Hydrocephalus Research Guild, which supports the Center for Integrative Brain Research.

Hydrocephalus occurs when cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is not reabsorbed or circulated properly in the brain. After her newborn son William developed hydrocephalus, Lori Poliski was dismayed to learn that treatment for the condition had progressed little since the 1950s. Shunts to drain excess CSF were introduced in the mid-1950s, but they often fail. William, 5, has already had four shunt replacement surgeries.

Not satisfied with the current state of treatment, Poliski co-founded the Hydrocephalus Research Guild with her husband Paul Gross to support the search for better options and, ultimately, a cure. The guild supports the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children's Research Institute. Jan "Nino" Ramirez, PhD, leads the research team.

"Anything is possible"

Research Institute Building

Seattle Children's Research institute comprises nine interdisciplinary centers, including the Center for Integrative Brain Research, that address areas central to pediatric health.

"Children's has assembled a brilliant group of researchers from different disciplines," says Poliski. "For the first time, I'm hopeful that someday a cure for hydrocephalus will be found. Nino's enthusiasm makes you think anything is possible."

"We are committed to finding solutions to some of the most daunting challenges in pediatric medicine," says Jim Hendricks, PhD, president of Seattle Children's Research Institute.

For example, researchers at the Center for Tissue and Cell Sciences are looking at using stem cells to regenerate heart tissue, which could make some heart surgeries or transplants unnecessary. Investigators at the Center for Immunity and Immunotherapies are seeking cures for immune disorders through gene therapy and gene repair, and those at the Center for Childhood Cancer are working to improve treatments and outcomes for children with cancer.

Support from Funding Focus, research guilds

Nino Ramirez

Jan "Nino" Ramirez, PhD, leads the Center for Integrative Brain Research.

Guilds are helping fuel Children's ambitious mission to eliminate pediatric illness. Our Funding Focus raised $6 million between 2004 and 2007 to endow four research chairs. Endowed funds are permanently invested, providing a perpetual source of income to support work at the institute. The 2008 Funding Focus raised an additional $1.5 million to benefit the Center for Tissue and Cell Sciences and the Center for Integrative Brain Research.

The Hydrocephalus Research Guild is one of 19 special-interest guilds that fund research on illnesses such as mitochondrial disease, cancer or brain tumors in children. Since 2004, five guilds have raised an estimated $1.8 million to support the collaborative brain tumor research being conducted by Children's, the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center under the leadership of Children's Dr. Jim Olson.

A large portion of the $4.5 million being raised by our current Funding Focus benefits research by the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Program, the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth and the Program in Cardiac Innovation. Together, we are making investments in research that will improve the future for children whose lives are touched by illness.

Research support: Guild giving at a glance, 2004 to 2010

Supported researchAmount
Endowed chairs
Pediatric Infectious Disease (2004) $1.5 million
Pediatric Urology (2005) $1.5 million
Health Outcomes (2006) $1.5 million
Pediatric Immunology (2007) $1.5 million
Center for Tissue and Cell Sciences (2008) $750,000
Center for Integrative Brain Research (2008) $750,000
Special-interest guilds (est.)
Hydrocephalus $360,000
Mitochondrial disease $1 million
Brain tumor $1.8 million
Cancer, craniofacial, cardiac (combined) $140,000
Current Funding Focus (through 2010, est.) $2 million
Total $12.8 million