Act Will Honor Late SU ‘Grad’

Act Will Honor Late SU ‘Grad’

Gabriella Miller, 10, for whom a new research bill is named, died of an inoperable brain tumor on Oct. 26. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed pediatric research legislation named in honor of a young Shenandoah University “graduate” who died last fall.

Gabriella Miller, 10, died Oct. 26, two weeks after receiving an honorary diploma from the Winchester-based private university. She has been diagnosed 11 months earlier with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma — an inoperable brain-stem tumor.

The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act is awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature. The legislation passed the House of Representatives in December.

“I’m glad it’s on its way to the president,” U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said Tuesday.

The bill will devote $126 million over the next 10 years to pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. The funding will come from the elimination of taxpayer money for presidential campaigns and party conventions.

“This is for children,” said Gabriella’s mother, Ellyn Miller of Loudoun County. “This is to benefit not just children who have cancer like my daughter, but all the pediatric diseases, and there’s nothing but good about that, so I’m so thrilled that both the House and the Senate were able to work together and have such a fantastic outcome.”

Gabriella Miller

Before she died, the Make-A-Wish Foundation helped fulfill several of Gabriella’s dreams — going to Paris, becoming a published author and graduating from college.

She spent a day at Shenandoah University in October, taking part in several classes and giving a commencement address while wearing her cap and gown.

Though some were concerned about the legislation eliminating funding for party conventions, Kaine said “the Senate had already voted to do that as a pay-for for [a number] of other bills.”

He added that “a little bit of research money can often go a very long way. This is not such a huge amount of money that it’s going to cure everything overnight, [but] this money will be well-used.”

— Contact Sally Voth at

By SALLY VOTH The Winchester Star