At the age of five, Emily Whitehead was diagnosed with an aggressive form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that failed to respond to chemotherapy. As a last hope, she was enrolled in a clinical trial at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and became the first child in the world to receive the pioneering cancer treatment called CAR-T cell therapy. The therapy worked and she remains cancer free.
Emily’s story has been covered worldwide including The New York Times, Washington Post, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, ABC World News Tonight, Fox News, and Parents Magazine. Her journey to CAR-T cell therapy has been included in Ken Burns’ PBS documentary Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, HBO’s Vice Special Report: Killing Cancer, and the Stand Up to Cancer telethon. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero (2013), awarded the BIO International Convention’s Superhero Award (2015), and named one of Nature’s “Top ten people who mattered this year” (2017). Emily is co-founder of the Emily Whitehead Foundation to raise funds for pediatric cancer immunotherapy research, including as CAR-T cell therapy. Emily attends high school and loves spending time with her chihuahua Luna. She plans to become a filmmaker and artist.