Foundation News

Please check back with us often for news and updates from the Greg Marzolf Jr. Foundation.

Register for Rock the Pavement 5K or 10K on August 9, 2014 at Lake Calhoun !

posted Jul 30, 2014, 7:36 AM by GMJr Foundation   [ updated Jul 30, 2014, 7:38 AM ]

With the best 5K and 10K course in Minnesota and rockin’ music as you run, this is an event you won’t want to miss!!!

Join the Greg Marzolf Jr. Foundation as we Rock the Pavement on August 9, 2014!!!

Choose to run or walk a 5K or 10K around beautiful Lake Calhoun with rockin’ music at various locations along the course!

Click here to register today!

Inspirational Story of a Family Living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

posted Mar 21, 2014, 1:37 PM by GMJr Foundation

Read this great inspirational article about the journey of a family living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy:

University of Minnesota Making Great Strides in Research!

posted Feb 27, 2014, 10:42 AM by GMJr Foundation

This story was used with permission from the University of Minnesota.

A molecular band-aid

A bleeding heart is a metaphor.
A leaking one is a common, and often deadly, reality.

In conditions from Duchenne muscular dystrophy to heart attack and heart failure, leaky heart cells lose proteins vital to long-term survival. For University of Minnesota heart researcher Joseph Metzger, fixing these leaks is a prime concern.


He is part of a U team that has built and used molecules akin to plastic as "molecular band-aids" to repair tears in the cell membranes that enclose muscle cells, keeping those vital proteins inside. Collectively, the patches are known as poloxamers.

"The FDA has approved one form of poloxamer for clinical trials with boys who have Duchenne muscular dystrophy," says Metzger, head of the Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology. "But [we still must secure] funds for the trials."


Metzger's colleagues are Frank Bates, head of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, and cardiologist Demetri Yannopoulos, an assistant professor of medicine.

How hearts leak

In Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a child—almost always a boy—is born with one of many mutations that lead to the absence of a large protein called dystrophin.

"Dystrophin is like a shock absorber. It dissipates the force from contraction," Metzger explains.  

"Without it, a muscle gets battered. The cell membrane is rendered highly susceptible to damage and unstable. We don't know exactly where the membrane becomes unstable, but we can observe big proteins, including enzymes, leaking out."

Following a heart attack and in cases of heart failure, damaged and/or aging heart cells can also become leaky. An acquired deficiency or alteration in dystrophin, Metzger points out, is one of many paths to dysfunction in acquired heart diseases, but in DMD it's the lesion, affecting both heart and skeletal muscles.

Certain steroids can help improve the function of limb muscles in DMD patients, and other treatments can help the diaphragm and other respiratory muscles.

"These don't cure DMD, but now boys can live into their twenties, not just early teens," says Metzger. "It's a cruel irony that if you [help] other muscles, the heart muscle is still weak." In fact, he notes, many DMD patients die from heart failure.

Dystrophin can't be replaced, but the molecular band-aids Metzger and his colleagues have developed may take over some of its function of keeping a cell from rupturing during stressful contractions. Here's how:

'Like the little Dutch boy'

The molecular band-aid comes about its name honestly. It is basically a molecular chain, or strip, with two identical “sticky” end pieces flanking a central piece that “covers the wound.” 

The diagram below shows the FDA-approved poloxamer. It consists of two end pieces, each a string of 80 molecules of polyethylene oxide (blue), and a central string of 27 molecules of polypropylene oxide (red). It is thought to drape itself over a cell membrane, seen in cross section with the membrane's outer surface in blue on top.

The end pieces are chemically attracted to the outer surface and anchor the band-aid. But the central piece is chemically drawn to the inner part of the membrane (yellow), or to the cell contents, which it reaches by dipping down through the breach. Either way, the poloxamer is hypothesized to plug the membrane tear "like the little Dutch boy sticking his finger in the dike," Metzger says.

Diagram of a molecular band-aid plugging a hole in a cell membrane.

"Frank [Bates] makes different lengths or varies the composition and architecture of the band-aids," he adds. "We're trying to optimize them for a range of diseases, for example, heart failure and DMD."

Encouraging results

For his part, Yannopoulos works to prevent heart damage that occurs when a doctor reopens a clogged coronary artery after a heart attack. Lack of oxygen and nutrients during an attack causes a condition called rigor (as in rigor mortis), which primes muscle cells to respond to the restoration of oxygen with inappropriate contractions and, often, more damage to cell membranes; this is called reperfusion injury.

But in an animal model of a heart attack and restoration of blood flow, the researchers found that treatment with a poloxamer led to much less reperfusion injury.

Molecular band-aids, says Metzger, have the advantages of being chemically inert and don’t appear to trigger an immune response. To be effective, however, they would have to be injected directly into a coronary artery as it is reopened, or on a quasi-daily basis for chronic conditions.

Compared to living with heart failure or the ravages of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, that sounds like a good deal.

Joseph Metzger holds the Maurice B. Visscher Endowed Land-Grant Chair in Physiology. Read related stories on molecular band-aids and a “guardian angel” protein for heart patients, a calcium sponge for diastolic heart failure, and research to improve CPR success.

Contact the writer at


Winter Games Gala Takes Gold for Record-Breaking Results

posted Feb 7, 2014, 11:18 AM by GMJr Foundation

Event brings in the highest-ever dollar amount in history of Cause to Cook Gala events!

The Greg Marzolf Jr. Foundation raised more than $70,500 to support local muscular dystrophy research at the Winter Games Gala –Champions for a cure – its Cause to Cook for a Cure fundraising gala at the University of St. Thomas in St.
Paul.  This year’s record-breaking results are the highest ever achieved in the history of the Greg Marzolf Jr. Foundation’s Cause to Cook for a Cure galas.

The Winter Games Gala was hosted by guest emcee Paul Allen from KFAN radio, who helped drive event participation and contributed to making it such a successful event.

The evening included food from around the world, games of chance including a live outdoor competition, a dessert board, a prize board, wine tasting, a silent auction, a fund-a-need auction and live music from Lightning Creek.  You can see photos from the event here.

The money raised at the Winter Games Gala will be allocated exclusively to support the Greg Marzolf Jr. Trainee Program at the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center at the University of Minnesota.

RSVP for the Winter Games Gala!

posted Jan 4, 2014, 11:15 AM by GMJr Foundation

Cause To Cook for a Cure
Join us and RSVP online today for the
Winter Games Gala – Champions for a Cure fundraising gala on January 18, 2014 at the University of St. Thomas - James B. Woulfe Alumni Hall in St. Paul.   You won’t want to miss out on a night of fantastic food from around the world, games, a silent auction, live music and more with the goal of raising money and awareness to support local research at the University of Minnesota for a cure to Muscular Dystrophy.   Visit to RSVP and learn more.

Celebrating 10 years of support for the University of Minnesota's MD Center

posted Nov 18, 2013, 10:58 AM by GMJr Foundation   [ updated Nov 18, 2013, 11:05 AM ]

Check out this great article written by the University of Minnesota on the partnership between the Greg Marzolf Jr. Foundation and the University of Minnesota’s Paul and Sheila Wellstone MD Center, which is celebrating ten years.

A Night at the Derby Wins Big -- $49,000 Raised for MD Research

posted Apr 4, 2013, 11:20 AM by GMJr Foundation   [ updated Apr 14, 2013, 9:37 AM ]

More than 200 generous people joined us for a hugely successful A Night at the Derby Cause to Cook for a Cure gala in January. Together, we raised a total of $49,000 to support MD research for a cure.

Photos from the event are available in this online picture gallery.  Past Events


Our new beautiful location at St. Thomas University’s James B. Woulfe Alumni Hall gave us plenty of room to celebrate, dance, and raise money and awareness for an important cause.


The evening included live music from Lightening Creek, delicious Southern Derby fare, specialty cocktails, games of chance including black jack tables, a cake walk and a prize board, wine tasting, a silent auction and a fund-a-need auction that raised more than $12,000.


Thank you to our generous sponsors -- 1500 am ESPN Twin Cities, Mauer Chev, Nook/Shamrock’s, R. F. Moeller Jeweler, Bremer Bank and Decko, 2 Gingers and Sam Adam's – and the many underwriters and our fabulous guests for making the gala an unforgettable night.


All of the money generated at A Night at the Derby – A Cause to Cook for a Cure will be allocated exclusively to support the Greg Marzolf Jr. Trainee Program at the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center at the University of Minnesota.


Each year, the Greg Marzolf Jr. Foundation awards grants to researchers in muscle disease. Since the Greg Marzolf Jr. Foundation’s support of the program began in 2005, research efforts have increased dramatically.


In total, the Greg Marzolf Jr. Foundation has raised more than $1,000,000 for clinical services and research since its inception more than ten years ago.

RSVP for A Night at the Derby

posted Dec 28, 2012, 1:03 PM by GMJr Foundation

RSVP online today for our annual Cause to Cook for a Cure fundraising gala on January 19, 2013. We will be hosting ‘A Night at the Derby’ at the University of St. Thomas - James B. Woulfe Alumni Hall in St. Paul. Please join us for this evening of fun, food and community. Visit to RSVP and learn more.

Give to the Max Day: Nov. 15

posted Nov 12, 2012, 6:44 PM by GMJr Foundation   [ updated Nov 13, 2012, 6:52 AM ]

As you know, the Greg Marzolf Jr. Foundation is focused on supporting research for a cure and raising awareness of Muscular Dystrophy (MD), the progressive muscle disease that leads to loss of muscle function, independence and life.


Support the Greg Marzolf Jr. Foundation by participating in MN Give to the Max Day (Nov.15), which is open now and runs through midnight CT on Nov. 15. Give to the Max Day is a campaign sponsored by Give MN to encourage Minnesotans to raise as much money as possible for Minnesota nonprofits during the 24-hour online campaign.


Give MN will award $12,500, $5,000 and $2,500 prize grants to the top three small nonprofit organizations (that's us!) which receive the most dollars during Give to the Max Day. A prize grant of $1,000 will be awarded to each nonprofit in 4th through 10th place. Also, throughout Nov. 15, Give MN will randomly select one individual donor each hour and will award the nonprofit of their choice with $1,000 – how great would it be if someone giving to the Greg Marzolf Jr. Foundation won an extra $1,000 for our foundation? Consider giving your gift when fewer people are online (from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.) to increase our odds of getting the $1,000 prize!


How you can participate:

Before or on Nov. 15, visit and search for Greg Marzolf Jr. Foundation to donate directly to the Greg Marzolf Jr. Foundation. Or, you can go straight to our page on


As always, feel free to email us at if you have any questions and connect with us on Facebook.

Thank you, in advance, for your support!

Symposium showcases exciting research

posted Oct 29, 2012, 6:39 PM by GMJr Foundation   [ updated Nov 1, 2012, 9:39 AM ]

The Greg Marzolf Jr. Symposium on Oct. 4, 2012 commemorated ten years of support and progress in the partnership between the Greg Marzolf Jr. Foundation and the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center at the University of Minnesota.

“The Marzolf family has gone above and beyond the call of duty by raising private funds to support the activities of the MD Center,” said Dr. Daniel Garry, Interim Director of the MD Center, during his opening remarks. 

The annual event is an opportunity to showcase the exciting neuromuscular research currently being conducted by students at the University of Minnesota and hear from a guest speaker about cutting-edge advances in MD therapies and research nationally.

This year’s guest speaker was Jerry Mendell, MD, director of the Center for Gene Therapy and Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Mendell has received multiple awards for his contributions to the field of neuromuscular diseases with an emphasis on muscular dystrophy. He was the first person to do gene therapy for Duchenne muscular dystophy, is internationally recognized, has published more than 300 peer reviewed papers, and has authored two books. 

Dr. Mendell explained that “Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common life-threatening childhood form of muscular dystrophy and we are compelled to find a treatment for this disease -- and I really have spent my life doing that.”

During his remarks, he updated the audience on some advances in clinic gene therapy trials and newborn screening studies.

A New York Times article, “Drug Shows Promise in Treating A Type of Muscular Dystrophy in Boys” recaps promising outcomes from one of Dr. Mendell’s recent clinic trials.

Prior to the keynote speech from Dr. Mendell, more than 40 post-doctorate, doctorate, graduate and undergraduate students from the University of Minnesota presented their research ranging from how muscles work and are developed as well as understanding different methods to treat muscular dystrophy.

Funds from the Greg Marzolf Jr. Foundation established, and continue to support, the Gregory Marzolf Jr. Training Program at the MD Center.  This year, the Greg Marzolf Jr. Foundation has awarded $50,000 to the Gregory Marzolf Jr. Training Program, thanks to the support of our generous donors.

The following researchers and students were recognized as the 2012 Marzolf Awardees.


Marzolf Scholar Award -- Dr. DeWayne Townsend

Project Description: Heart disease is a leading cause of death in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a uniformly fatal disease characterized by severe skeletal muscle injury and cardiomyopathy, resulting from mutations within the dystrophin gene. The clinical importance of the heart requires that dystrophin’s function in the myocardium be a central focus in the development of effective therapies for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Dystrophin connects the internal cytoskeleton to the membrane and functions as a mechanical buffer, protecting the membrane from the forces of contraction. Dystrophin also serves as a scaffold, coordinating the positions of many proteins. This laboratory explores the physiology of animal models of muscular dystrophy. Through assessment of respiratory, vasc

ular, and cardiac function we hope to uncover the central mechanisms of dystrophic cardiomyopathy. Only by understanding these fundamental mechanisms of disease, will they be able to develop effective therapies.

Undergraduate Research Fellowships


Ashley Brate – Project Title: Effects of disease-causing point mutations on actin’s resilience


Iustin Cornea – Project Title: Computational modeling guides therapeutic development for muscular dystrophy


Michael Eckhoff – Project Title: Effects of Differential Utrophin Expression on Contractile Function of Dystrophin-Deficient Mouse Muscle


Praveena Narayanan – Project Title: Regulation of actin turnover in skeletal muscle by Wdr1, Cofilin and Coronin


Benjamin Petrie – Project Title: Baculovirus Based AAV Generation: Adding Efficient Production to Efficient Transduction


Ryan Price – Project Title: Fluorescence quenching measurements to study the structural defects caused by a myosin essential light chain cardiomyopathy mutation.


Jenny Seong – Project Title: Green Fluorescent Protein membrane localization via N-terminal myristylation: proof-of-concept study for the design of a calcium buffering system at the plasma membrane.


Mark Strom – Project Title: POU3F4 Regulation of Satellite Cell Self-Renewal

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