WPage 1

Phi Delta Theta Announces ALS Service Learning Trip And $135,000 In Iron Phi ALS Research Grants


Scroll_News_DefaultALS Service Learning Trip Scheduled for May 14-20 2014 in Missouri

Phi Delta Theta has had a long tenured partnership with the ALS community and for more than a decade has supported The ALS Association. Through the support of Phi Delta Theta’s undergraduate and alumni members, the Fraternity has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars and hours to support ALS research and care services.

In an effort to strengthen this partnership and to offer a centralized experience to support the missions of both Phi Delta Theta and The ALS Association, the Fraternity is proud to announce an ALS Service Learning Trip that will be held from May 14-20 2014. For seven days, Phi Delta Theta members from across the US and Canada will complete service projects in the homes of people with ALS, engage in conversations with local ALS Association board members, and interact with people affected by the disease and their families in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas.

Luke Benfield, Director of Education for Phi Delta Theta commented, “For years our membership has been passionately raising money for ALS research. This new program will provide an opportunity for undergraduate men to interact with those affected by ALS, and create a greater sense of awareness of the disease. I think Lou Gehrig would be proud of his Fraternity and the steps we are taking to support The ALS Association.”

In addition to completing service projects, participants will learn more about the nature of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, how to get involved with The ALS Association, and the importance of servant-leadership through the lens of Phi Delta Theta’s three cardinal principles: friendship, sound learning, and rectitude. The week’s activities will culminate with an Iron Phi event for participants, local Phi Delta Theta members and any friends or supporters of The ALS Association.

“The St. Louis Regional Chapter is excited to partner with Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and host them in St. Louis. This will certainly foster a greater connection between our organizations and those participating will undoubtedly understand and embrace our mission as they have opportunities to engage with those directly affected by ALS,” said Maureen Hill, Executive Director for our St. Louis Regional Chapter of The ALS Association.

Registration Fee: $500

What does my registration fee cover? Meals, lodging, supplies and transportation once you arrive. Travel to and from Kansas City is not included.

When do I have to pay? All registrants must submit a valid credit card number in the registration process. On May 1, 2014, that card will be charged for any remaining balance.

How can I fundraise to participate for free?

  1. Register for the program through your myPhiDeltaTheta dashboard
  2. Go to ironphi.org and register to become an Iron Phi.
  3. Join the ALS Service Trip Iron Phi Team if you haven’t previously registered for Iron Phi.
  4. Utilize the Iron Phi fundraising system to spread the word and raise at least $500 before May 1, 2014.
  5. Reach $500 in total donations and your registration fee is covered! If not, your credit card will be charged for the balance.
  6. (Optional) Since you’re half way there, might as well raise the full $1,000 and become an Iron Phi. The last $500 will benefit ALS research and the Phi Delta Theta Foundation.
  7. (Optional) Participate in the Iron Phi event during the service trip (details coming soon).

Travel info:

We will be coordinating flights and ground arrivals after the first of the year. All participants will be arriving and departing from Kansas City, MO.

View the tentative schedule

Register Here

Questions about the program and registration can be directed to Phi Delta Theta General Headquarters at (513) 523-6345 or lbenfield@phideltatheta.org.


Blog_Iron_PhiIron Phi Program Grants $135,000 to ALS Researchers

Phi Delta Theta recently announced the awarding of two grants to ALS researchers. Funds for the grants were generated through the Fraternity’s Iron Phi program, a program that mobilizes members of Phi Delta Theta to raise funds for both The ALS Association and the Phi Delta Theta Foundation as they train to accomplish athletic goals. More information about the Iron Phi program can be found at www.ironphi.org.

“The research funds provided to The ALS Association through the Iron Phi program are crucial to our mission and vision of creating a world without ALS. We appreciate the commitment of the Fraternity to serve the ALS community and look forward to celebrating together as research breakthroughs bring us closer to a cause and cure.” – Jane Gilbert, President and CEO of The ALS Association.

The two grants include:

Researcher:  Christine Beattie, Ph.D.

Ohio State University; Columbus, Ohio

Topic: Identifying the initial mechanisms of nervous system dysfunction in ALS

Grant:  $55,000

Description:  Current ALS research has not translated to successful treatments in patients.

New approaches are needed, especially in the search of effective drug compounds. Zebrafish offer many strengths in terms of similar genetics and neuroanatomy when compared to mammals, large numbers, small size, and ease of drug testing. Investigators are using this model to look for early changes in the spinal cord that begin a cascade of events leading to the eventual dysfunction of motor neurons. Their hypothesis is that mutated SOD1 increases motor neuron excitability by altering AMPA receptors leading to a disruption of calcium signaling between the ER – mitochondria that are important to maintain motor neuron health. Stress at the ER causes an initially beneficial condition called the unfolded protein response (UPR); however, when the cell is overstressed the UPR becomes damaging. They are testing their hypothesis using a combination of electrophysiology, calcium imaging, and RNA expression analysis. The knowledge they gain from these experiments will be used to not only understand the early changes that happen in motor neurons in this disease but will also define biomarkers that in future work will aid in the design of high throughput screens in zebrafish larvae to aid in drug development and testing.


Researcher:  Pavel Ivanov, Ph.D.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA

Topic:  Angiogenin and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Grant:  $80,000

Description:  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an adult onset neurodegenerative disorder of devastating impact that causes selective injury and loss of motor neurons. Both familial and sporadic ALS forms are phenotypically indistinguishable from each other suggesting the existence of common pathways underlying disease pathogenesis.  The recent identification of ALS-associated mutations in several RNA-processing proteins implicates aberrant RNA metabolism as a common basis of neuronal death. The ribonuclease angiogenin (ANG) is one of the RNA-processing proteins in which loss-of-function mutations are found in patients with both familial and sporadic ALS, although ANG-dependent changes in cell physiology contributing to the development of ALS are not known. Significantly, treatment of motor neurons with recombinant wild type ANG, but not its ALS-associated mutants, protects them from stress-induced death and apoptosis.  Mechanisms of ANG-mediated neuroprotection are currently unknown, but the ribonuclease activity of ANG is an absolute requirement for the cytoprotection.  Investigators showed that ANG is a stress-responsive factor that cleaves tRNA to produce a new class of small RNAs, tRNA-derived stress-induced RNAs (tiRNAs). In their proposed study, investigators plan to characterize the roles of ANG and tiRNAs in cell physiology and to examine the hypothesis that ANG-mediated changes in RNA metabolism contribute to the pathophysiology of ALS.

“There’s nothing more meaningful to Phi Delta Theta’s Iron Phi program than making grants to individuals who are researching this dreaded disease. We are committed to supporting those who are making strides in finding a cure for ALS, and I’m very proud of those Phis who have committed themselves to making these grants possible,” said Steve Good, Phi Delta Theta’s Director of Communications and Iron Phi.