• Press Release
  • For Immediate Release
  • Media Contact:
    • Michele Franco
    • 626.792.8247 ext. 264
    • michele.franco@stbaldricks.org

Promising Grant for Childhood Cancer Research Given in Honor of Rolla Child

Rolla, Mo. – The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, is proud to announce The Oliver Wells Fund for Neuroblastoma, a St. Baldrick’s Hero Fund, created in honor of Oliver Wells from Rolla, Mo., will support lifesaving childhood cancer research.

Saurabh Agarwal, Ph.D., from St. John’s University, N.Y. is being named as the recipient of “The Oliver Wells Fund for Neuroblastoma St. Baldrick’s Scholar Grant” to support his promising research in identifying causes of relapse in neuroblastoma patients and developing targeted therapies for treatment.

High-risk neuroblastoma is an aggressive cancer of very young children with less than 50% overall survival. Current therapy includes high-dose chemotherapy and radiation, which has long-term toxic side-effects. Despite these intensive therapies, neuroblastoma patients commonly relapse, resulting in death. Dr. Agarwal’s research has identified specific tumor cells which escape initial treatment and instead, regenerate into drug-resistant and metastatic tumors at relapse. By using innovative epigenetic therapies, he is focusing his research on developing effective targeted approaches to treat high-risk neuroblastoma and to block disease relapse. Dr. Agarwal’s research has the potential to save lives.

“We constantly relive that moment when we learned that Oliver had relapsed,” said Dallas Wells, Oliver’s father. “We knew that the odds had instantly gotten a lot worse for him. We had been so focused on making it through treatment, and then we found out that not only did his bone marrow transplant not get rid of the remaining tumors, but the disease had actually spread to new spots in his lungs and liver. That was in February, and in a matter of weeks, we lost our baby boy. We are thrilled to be able to help support Dr. Agarwal’s research, and hope to save other families from some of the same heartache.”

Oliver was diagnosed with stage IV, high-risk neuroblastoma at 15 months. Over the next 13 months, he bravely battled the disease, enduring chemotherapy and radiation, more than a dozen surgeries, and a bone marrow transplant. In July 2018 at the age of two, Ollie passed away. The Oliver Wells Fund for Neuroblastoma, a St. Baldrick’s Hero Fund was established in his memory to raise funds to find cures and give hope to other kids facing the same fight. In this way, the Wells family intends to share Oliver’s joy for life and use his story to help find a cure.

St. Baldrick’s Hero Funds are an ongoing way for friends, family members and groups to donate or raise funds to honor a loved one. To learn more about the program and Oliver’s story, visit his Hero Fund page at St. Baldrick’s.

About St. Baldrick’s Foundation
Every 2 minutes a child somewhere in the world is diagnosed with cancer. The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest private funder of pediatric cancer research grants, is on a mission to defy childhood cancers by supporting the most promising research to find cures and better treatments for all childhood cancers. When you give to St. Baldrick’s, you don’t just give to one institution–you give to virtually every institution treating kids with cancer across the U.S. and beyond. As a leader in the pediatric cancer community, St. Baldrick’s works tirelessly to ensure that current and future children diagnosed with cancer will have access to the most cutting-edge treatment from the best leaders in the pediatric oncology field. Join us at StBaldricks.org and help #DFYchildhoodCancers.