Morning Read: Globe Series Spotlights a Former Local Doctor | Off Message

Morning Read: Globe Series Spotlights a Former Local Doctor


Dr. Giselle Sholler was working at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington a decade ago when she started making a name for herself as a tenacious yet loving physician treating children sickened with neuroblastoma, a form of cancer.

Now based in Grand Rapids, Mich., Sholler’s continued work is the subject of a heart-wrenching five-part series in the Boston Globe titled “The Power of Will.”

I wrote about Sholler’s neuroblastoma research in Burlington in a 2008 article for the Burlington Free Press. Her upbeat bedside manner and her unrelenting willingness to try new treatments made her a magnet for desperate parents of neuroblastoma patients from around the country and abroad.

“It had been quite big news in the neuroblastoma world as to what’s
happening here,” Richard Brown, a father who’d brought his son from London for treatment, told me then.

Despite setbacks in her research and the difficult deaths of many of her young patients (including Brown’s son, Jack), Sholler didn’t give up. The Globe series chronicles Sholler’s pursuit of drugs that would stand up to the often deadly illness that strikes young children.

Stymied by pharmaceutical companies, Sholler teamed with Pat Lacey, the father of a patient of hers from Braintree, Mass., to start their own drug company. They set about to manufacture a drug called DFMO that succeeded in keeping neuroblastoma patients from relapsing.

Part 2 of the series appeared today.