Fall Appeal campaign logo 2022
Hope: Our Greatest Investment

Hope. That we’ll not only survive but thrive. 

Hope. For what is possible, for what is yet to come. 

Hope. For answers. For a cure.

When it seems like the world is falling apart around us, hope is our greatest investment. 

It is an investment in the intangible, made real through ABTA’s mission and action: providing comprehensive brain tumor resources to patients and caregivers; and funding critical brain tumor research in the pursuit of breakthroughs in diagnosis, treatment and care.

Read on… 

Hope. That we’ll not only survive but thrive. 

Hope. For what is possible, for what is yet to come. 

Hope. For answers. For a cure.

When it seems like the world is falling apart around us, hope is our greatest investment. 

It is an investment in the intangible, made real through ABTA’s mission and action: providing comprehensive brain tumor resources to patients and caregivers; and funding critical brain tumor research in the pursuit of breakthroughs in diagnosis, treatment and care.

Read on… 

Tyler's Quest for Cures

Tyler Miller calls brain tumor research a “team sport.”

As a postdoctoral researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Miller is an up-and-coming researcher determined to revolutionize brain tumor treatments. 

“I had family and friends who’ve suffered from brain cancer and it was awful,” Miller said. “I wanted to spend my time and efforts trying to make an impact for patients that desperately need better therapies.” 

While completing his PhD and medical degree in pathology and cancer biology at Case Western Reserve University, Miller was eager to apply for the ABTA Basic Research Fellowship – a two-year, $100,000 grant for post-doctoral researchers who work with nationally recognized mentors in the neuro-oncology field.

One of only two people awarded this grant in 2020, Miller joined his renowned mentor, Bradley Bernstein, MD, PhD, at the Bernstein Lab of MGH, to study how the brain’s immune system can better fight off cancer cells. 

“I firmly believe that our best shot at a cure for aggressive brain tumors is by harnessing the power of the immune system through immunotherapy,” he said. 

Miller used a cutting-edge method called the organoid model to study myeloid cells (cells within the immune system that serve to kill cancer cells and foreign antigens). The organoid model involves cutting human brain tumor into tiny pieces and preserving them in an orbital shaker.

Miller tested different therapeutic strategies on the tissue to see how myeloid cells, T-cells, and cancer cells interact with each other outside of the human brain – something that wasn’t possible before.  

The challenge: overcoming how cancer cells can create an immunosuppressive response from myeloid cells, effectively blocking their ability to fight off cancer. 

Miller said collaboration is key to research breakthroughs. 

“It’s really important to have sustained support so we can plan for the future, hire the right people, and get more people interested in brain tumor research with us,” Miller said.

His lab continues to build upon the research initiated through his ABTA-funded grant with additional funds he’s received from the Brain Tumour Charity and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“The ABTA is thrilled to support early-career researchers like Tyler who are eager to apply new ideas and technologies to solve the unique challenges of brain tumors,” said Heather Calderone, PhD, ABTA Director of Research & Grants. 

With technology evolving so rapidly, Miller said he’s optimistic about the future. 

“My hope is that we, as a collective group of researchers, get that next step to unlock whatever it is we need to do to enable GBM patients to survive not just 15 months, but 15 years,” he said. 

Please contribute now to the ABTA to support ground-breaking brain tumor research. Your financial support is truly an investment in hope!

Tyler Miller calls brain tumor research a “team sport.”

As a postdoctoral researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Miller is an up-and-coming researcher determined to revolutionize brain tumor treatments. 

“I had family and friends who’ve suffered from brain cancer and it was awful,” Miller said. “I wanted to spend my time and efforts trying to make an impact for patients that desperately need better therapies.” 

While completing his PhD and medical degree in pathology and cancer biology at Case Western Reserve University, Miller was eager to apply for the ABTA Basic Research Fellowship – a two-year, $100,000 grant for post-doctoral researchers who work with nationally recognized mentors in the neuro-oncology field.

One of only two people awarded this grant in 2020, Miller joined his renowned mentor, Bradley Bernstein, MD, PhD, at the Bernstein Lab of MGH, to study how the brain’s immune system can better fight off cancer cells. 

“I firmly believe that our best shot at a cure for aggressive brain tumors is by harnessing the power of the immune system through immunotherapy,” he said. 

Miller used a cutting-edge method called the organoid model to study myeloid cells (cells within the immune system that serve to kill cancer cells and foreign antigens). The organoid model involves cutting human brain tumor into tiny pieces and preserving them in an orbital shaker.

Miller tested different therapeutic strategies on the tissue to see how myeloid cells, T-cells, and cancer cells interact with each other outside of the human brain – something that wasn’t possible before.  

The challenge: overcoming how cancer cells can create an immunosuppressive response from myeloid cells, effectively blocking their ability to fight off cancer. 

Miller said collaboration is key to research breakthroughs. 

“It’s really important to have sustained support so we can plan for the future, hire the right people, and get more people interested in brain tumor research with us,” Miller said.

His lab continues to build upon the research initiated through his ABTA-funded grant with additional funds he’s received from the Brain Tumour Charity and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“The ABTA is thrilled to support early-career researchers like Tyler who are eager to apply new ideas and technologies to solve the unique challenges of brain tumors,” said Heather Calderone, PhD, ABTA Director of Research & Grants. 

With technology evolving so rapidly, Miller said he’s optimistic about the future. 

“My hope is that we, as a collective group of researchers, get that next step to unlock whatever it is we need to do to enable GBM patients to survive not just 15 months, but 15 years,” he said. 

Please contribute now to the ABTA to support ground-breaking brain tumor research. Your financial support is truly an investment in hope!

Dan's Will To Live

When you’re diagnosed with a brain tumor, it’s not just a chapter in your life. It’s a life-long journey. 

Mine began on August 21, 2014 – the day I found out I had a mass on my brain. I started to panic as I waited for an ambulance to take me to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. I pulled out a notebook and wrote down five things: Fight & Win. Show Grace. Be Grateful. Love. Set the Example. 

At the time, I didn’t know why these thoughts came to me. But these five principles of resilience have carried me through an eight-year battle with GBM.  

After 23 years in the Marine Corps, serving as an officer with eight deployments, I was ready to return to “normal life” with my wife Aimée and our young children. Then I was diagnosed with grade 4 glioblastoma.  

The average prognosis for adults with GBM is 15-18 months. 

As a husband and father of three, I felt a real responsibility to be there for my family. It was terrifying at first to consider that I would not see any of that future. 

But my fear quickly turned to resolve. I would not, based on who I was and what I knew about struggle, give into fear. What I learned in the military is that I have the will to live. 

Even when the statistics are grim, we can’t let them influence our will. This mindset has helped me endure three craniotomies, chemotherapy, radiation and clinical trials for immunotherapy. 

As I write this, I’m undergoing treatment for a GBM recurrence. 

It was a shock after 6 ½ years of clear scans. But I believe having a positive mindset is crucial in determining outcomes. With my family by my side and my medical team at Duke, I have the will to fight for tomorrow. 

As I reflect on the past eight years, I think I’ve changed for the better. I’ll never say I’m grateful for having brain cancer, but it’s changed me and made my life significant in a way I never expected. 

Join me now in supporting the ABTA to ensure life-changing research and critical patient support services are available when they’re needed most. You can help lift more families up in their fight against brain tumors.   

Invest in hope by making a gift today. 

When you’re diagnosed with a brain tumor, it’s not just a chapter in your life. It’s a life-long journey.

Mine began on August 21, 2014 – the day I found out I had a mass on my brain. I started to panic as I waited for an ambulance to take me to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. I pulled out a notebook and wrote down five things: Fight & Win. Show Grace. Be Grateful. Love. Set the Example.

At the time, I didn’t know why these thoughts came to me. But these five principles of resilience have carried me through an eight-year battle with GBM.

After 23 years in the Marine Corps, serving as an officer with eight deployments, I was ready to return to “normal life” with my wife Aimée and our young children. Then I was diagnosed with grade 4 glioblastoma.

The average prognosis for adults with GBM is 15-18 months.

As a husband and father of three, I felt a real responsibility to be there for my family. It was terrifying at first to consider that I would not see any of that future.

But my fear quickly turned to resolve. I would not, based on who I was and what I knew about struggle, give into fear. What I learned in the military is that I have the will to live.

Even when the statistics are grim, we can’t let them influence our will. This mindset has helped me endure three craniotomies, chemotherapy, radiation and clinical trials for immunotherapy.

As I write this, I’m undergoing treatment for a GBM recurrence.

It was a shock after 6 ½ years of clear scans. But I believe having a positive mindset is crucial in determining outcomes. With my family by my side and my medical team at Duke, I have the will to fight for tomorrow.

As I reflect on the past eight years, I think I’ve changed for the better. I’ll never say I’m grateful for having brain cancer, but it’s changed me and made my life significant in a way I never expected.

Join me now in supporting the ABTA to ensure life-changing research and critical patient support services are available when they’re needed most. You can help lift more families up in their fight against brain tumors.

Invest in hope by making a gift today.

Dan Zappa is an eight-year GBM survivor, retired Marine lieutenant colonel and former infantry officer. He lives in Virginia with his wife Aimée and their three children.