One snowy day recently, I was on a Zoom chat for my work with OurBrainBank for Glioblastoma (GBM), a brain cancer non-profit. My colleague and I were making the usual greeting chit-chat with a young man named Jacob Ellen who kindly volunteers with us.

Usually, we’re all in NYC, but I shared that since Covid, I’d moved to our weekend house on the Sharon/West Cornwall line. I was surprised to learn that Jacob had also relocated and was just a few miles away — if the train had gone by just then, we both would have heard it.

Jacob is a 23-year-old grad student (health data science master’s program at University College London) with both a scientific and personal interest in brain cancer. His own brain tumor during his first year of high school motivated him to study neuroscience in college.  In 2018, after interning during college for OurBrainBank, he became interested in how data can advance research. He has volunteered for OurBrainBank ever since, helping to analyze glioblastoma symptom data and generate insights.

Since Covid, he’s been doing his studies remotely from Cornwall. His grandparents, Joy and Asmund Boyum, bought a house here in 1970 after falling in love with the town while visiting their friend Gerry Van Doren in the 1960’s. Besides studying and volunteering during the pandemic, he’s enjoyed spending time with family and his two dogs, Posey and Pepper.

OurBrainBank is dedicated to moving glioblastoma—the deadliest of brain tumors, the one that took John McCain and Beau Biden—from terminal to treatable, powered by patients. For a rare disease, it seems to touch many people, including at least three Cornwallians (among them Lynn Cheney and Dan Cain), as well as Robert Sadlon of the Millerton Moviehouse. Anyone living with GBM (age 18+ in the US or UK) may join our study from home. Learn more at Donations gratefully accepted.

Thank you, Jacob, for doing such vitally important work!

—Martha Wilkie

Jacob Ellen OurBrainBank