Project Stella is named for Stella Novotny, an unforgettable little girl who lost her life to AML-RAM when she was just four years old. Stella had many exploratory treatments and a first-in-human immunotherapy trial, until her tiny body could not fight any longer. She lost her battle in November 2017, just 3 weeks after her 4th birthday. Stella’s parents, Casey and Jed, launched Project Stella to help change the outcome for other children and families facing AML. Their courage and vision are responsible for this life saving project. We owe them so much.


Ella was diagnosed with AML-RAM when she was 14 months old in October of 2019. She received three rounds of intense, inpatient chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant from a matched, unrelated donor. Ella was hospitalized for over 9 months and was critically ill due to infections from treatement as well as a severe form of gut graft vs. host disease. She was finally discharged in late May of 2020, but is still heavily monitored and has a long road of recovery.

Today, we are incredibly grateful that Ella remains in remission and is now 2 years post transplant! She is the life of the party- demanding family dance parties, riding her trike down the sidewalk while singing ‘jingle bells’ at the top of her lungs, and carrying around her stepstool so she can do everything ‘by myself!!’ Her lungs suffered damage during treatment and have worsened, so her team at Lurie Children's in Chicago is digging deeper to assess the possibility of pulmonary graft vs. host disease (Research Goals and Status). Though this would be a tough diagnosis, we also acknowledge that its flip-side, graft vs. leukemia, is likely why she hasn't relapsed like most others with this form of AML. We remain grateful for every moment, recognizing how fragile and precious time is.


~Written by Troy and Ashley Peck

Aspen is a sweet, silly little girl who was diagnosed just shortly after her 1st birthday with AML-RAM. Since her diagnosis, Aspen endured 2 rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant at Boston Childrens. She was doing well, recovering, and enjoying life at home with her brother.

During a routine biopsy, almost one year to the day of her diagnosis anniversary, we found out that Aspen relapsed, just 9 months post bone marrow transplant. After consultation with multiple institutions and, of course, Dr. Meshinchi, we decided to move forward with a protocol involving methotrexate, STRO002, a donor lymphocyte infusion, and possibly another agent. Every doctor we met with was amazed by the progress Dr. Meshinchi and his lab have made. We have been told many times by our doctors that there is a long road ahead for Aspen and that no one has survived longer than Ella. We are relying on science and hope. Aspen’s ability to receive STRO002 is directly linked to the advances made because of Project Stella.


Indya is a smiley and sweet 1 year old girl we were introduced to in October, battling AML-RAM. Since her diagnosis, Indya endured three rounds of chemotherapy treatment, but her cancer increased. In partnership with Dr. Meshinchi, her team at Childrens' Hospital in Los Angeles administered STRO002 and she achieved remission after three doses. Indya received a bone marrow transplant on April 29, 2022. We are sending hope and prayers to Indya and her family for a swift recovery and lasting remission.


Emari was a spunky little girl who was diagnosed with AML-RAM at the age of only 18 months. She endured countless rounds of intensive chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, but relapsed less than 2 months post transplant, even before engrafting and creating a new immune system. She received one of the drugs (STRO-002) tested in Project Stella and though she made a remarkable turnaround after only the first dose, could not continue to fight infection and the large disease burden. Emari sadly passed away on September 28, 2021 at home in the arms of her mother. Our hearts break with her family.


Emma is a friendly and lovable one year old girl who insists on waving to everyone! She was diagnosed with AML-RAM in October of 2021 when she was 9 months old following concerns of an ongoing fever and a bump on her head.

Since her diagnosis, Emma has been treated with multiple rounds of chemotherapy as well as one of the Project Stella drugs, STRO002. Fortunately Emma achieved remission and received a bone marrow transplant on April 6 2022. It has been a difficult path with many ups and downs but she is recovering smoothly so far. We continue to send prayers and positive thoughts to her and her family as she tolerates the transplant phase.


Sophia is a feisty and funny two year old girl who was diagnosed with AML-RAM in November of 2021. Since her diagnosis, Sophia’s treatment course has been long with many hurdles. After not responding to standard chemotherapy, one dose of STRO002 brought her disease burden from 95% to 0.25%! A few more doses brought her to remission and she received her bone marrow transplant on April 29, 2022. We are sending positive thoughts for a smooth recovery and a lasting cure.