About Us

In 2003, John Ritter — beloved actor, husband, father, and friend — was taken suddenly due to an acute thoracic aortic dissection which was tragically misdiagnosed.

Weeks after his death, his wife and fellow actor Amy Yasbeck founded The John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health with a focused and urgent purpose to prevent unnecessary suffering caused by aortic dissection.

We exist to spread awareness of aortic health and prevent unnecessary suffering through genetic research, widespread education, and radical advocacy.

Every year, undiagnosed and misdiagnosed aortic dissections are responsible for a staggering number of tragically avoidable deaths.

Since losing John, I’ve devoted myself to shining a much-needed light on thoracic aortic disease. The John Ritter Foundation and I are committed to alleviating this unnecessary suffering caused by the devastating lack of aortic awareness.

—Amy Yasbeck

Our Goals

Our team works endlessly to end the unnecessary suffering for those affected by thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection.

Aortic dissection knows no boundaries, affecting people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities. Throughout this past year, The JRF shared impactful patient and family stories with clinicians at conferences, aortic clinics across the country, and during our educational programs.

Life with Aortic Disease: Caring for Your Mental Health, a free book, was made available this year through The JRF. Over 700 copies have been distributed. Related research on the effectiveness of mental health interventions for aortic patients is ongoing.


Funding from The JRF enabled the Aortic Dissection Collaborative for Patient-Centered Research to continue its work. The Collaborative has assembled a broad network of stakeholders who are well-informed about aortic dissection and patient-centered outcomes research, in order to guide research prioritization and eventual development.

The JRF funded an extension for the first clinical trial investigating the safety of exercise in patients with aortic dissection, supported research to develop an evidence-based diagnostic tool for aortic dissection, and initiated the first phase of a clinical trial for a drug with the potential to be the first treatment for a rare, childhood-onset genetic disorder.

Aortic dissections can largely be prevented if individuals at risk are identified early. We were privileged this year to share this message with surgeons, cardiologists, and other medical professionals who care for thoracic aortic disease patients.

We have expanded the offerings of the Aorta Academy, our virtual library of resources, to ensure that the latest recommendations and knowledge are readily available to all members of our community. Look for our content to grow even more next year.

In June of 2023, we gathered at Camp Purpose in Colorado for an intensive training program with the inaugural class of 20 Aorta Advocate volunteers, each personally connected to aortic disease. Over three days, advocates underwent comprehensive instruction in peer support, responsible resource navigation, and self-advocacy within medical environments. These volunteers are now actively serving our community, bringing diverse experiences and backgrounds to enrich our outreach efforts.

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Team Ritter in the NYC Marathon
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educational events with experts
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Families enrolled in JRRP


To prevent unnecessary suffering because of the unknown.


To raise awareness of thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection through research, education, and advocacy.


To make aortic health a routine part of the patient and doctor conversation.

Research Grant Program

Since 2010, The John Ritter Foundation has provided funding and support for The John Ritter Research Program (JRRP), an independent research project conducted out of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston under the direction of Dr. Dianna Milewicz. As of 2023, more than 1,500 families have enrolled in this groundbreaking research that aims to help identify risk factors, collect data on symptoms, and improve clinical care and quality of life. 

The Faces of The John Ritter Foundation

Our team works endlessly to end the unnecessary suffering for those affected by thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection.