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 treatment 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.

Ella remains in remission, despite all odds. Thanks to her team at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Ella's immune system is strengthening, her lung complications from her transplant are improving, and she is even going to school! We hold our breath and count our blessings every day.


~Written by Troy and Ashley Peck

Since relapsing in January, Aspen has done remarkably well. She has periodically received donor lymphocyte infusions and STRO02 and has remained in remission! Throughout her treatment, she remained healthy and strong, and most importantly, outpatient.  She remains in remission and has been living her life like any toddler should- exploring outside, going on trips with her family, and making messes at every opportunity. Aspen received her last dose of STRO002 just a week prior to starting preschool. Her parents credit the work done in Project Stella to why she is alive today.


Indya has endured a difficult journey since her diagnosis at just 6 months old. Despite having severe graft vs. host disease post bone marrow transplant, Indya’s cancer cells returned within three months of transplant. She received a second transplant in November of 2022, and underwent the NK cell trial in St. Louis in 2023 when her cancer relapsed yet again. Indya and her family continues to fight, looking to the work being done at Project Stella to provide her cure.


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. Emma achieved remission and received a bone marrow transplant on April 6 2022. Sadly, her cancer cells returned within just a few months of her transplant and she began again on the road to remission. Gratefully she achieved remission and had a second bone marrow transplant in October of 2022, with her mother as her donor. She remains in remission today.


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. Sadly her cancer returned within a few months of her transplant. Like Aspen, Sophia has been receiving donor lymphocyte infusions paired with STRO02 with the hope of eliminating any lingering cancer cells, for good.