Smashing Walnuts Funds Cancer Research Fellowship

The Smashing Walnuts Foundation, a component fund of The Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties, has established the Smashing Walnuts Foundation Scholarship at Children’s National to support a doctoral student pursuing a career in Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) research. 

            This fully funded, one-year fellowship will advance the career and development of Sulgi (John) Lee, a fourth year PhD candidate in biomedical sciences at George Washington University. Lee will continue the research he began under the mentorship of Dr. Javad Nazarian to find the answers to the complex questions regarding pediatric glioma brain tumors. 

            DIPG is the type of cancer that took the life of Gabriella Miller, daughter of Mark and Ellyn Miller of Leesburg. After Gabriella’s death at the age of 10, the Millers donated her tumor to Nazarian and his team for further research into this type of brain cancer. DIPG has no cure and is inoperable because of its location on the brain stem. 

            Gabriella’s tumor was the size of a walnut, and the Millers began literally smashing walnuts to help their daughter visualize crushing her tumor. Prior to her passing, they formed “Smashing Walnuts” as a foundation dedicated to “Cracking The Cure” to childhood brain cancers. 

            “Smashing Walnuts has funded research for the past six years, but this is the first time we have funded a specific researcher,” Ellyn Miller said. “We feel honored to be able to give this fellowship grant to Mr. Lee because he plans to dedicate his life’s work to finding better treatments, and eventually, cures for childhood brain cancer.” 

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