02.15.19 | Julia Vitarello


Julia Vitarello’s life has taken her from the multi-cultural neighborhood of Adam’s Morgan in Washington, DC, where she grew up, to pursuing a liberal arts degree at Amherst College, and then to Italy where she lived for many years working at the Ducati Motorcycle factory and Olympic Committee for the Torino Winter Games. She finally settled down in Boulder where she headed a small Italian sports company and started a family. Travel, language, outdoor sports and playing with her kids were her passions. But two years ago, Julia’s life took a drastic turn when her then six-year-old daughter Mila was diagnosed with a rare and fatal genetic condition - Batten Disease. 

Upon learning that Mila’s disease had no cure and no child had ever survived it, Julia started Mila’s Miracle Foundation to fund science. She has raised nearly $3M in grass-roots efforts while at the same time being a mom and caregiver. She raced against time with scientists at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital to start a first-in-the-world genetic treatment for Mila which began in January 2018. Over the past few months, Mila has become the poster child for precision medicine and her story is breaking ice in the scientific world. While it is still too early to know whether the treatment is in time to save her daughter, for now Mila’s disease progression seems to have stopped with some subtle, but important improvements. Today she has real hope.

What began as a race to save Mila’s life, has turned into an opportunity to pave an entirely new treatment path for children with fatal genetic diseases. Julia works tirelessly with scientists, academic and government institutions, biotechs, and patient advocates. She regularly presents Mila’s story at scientific meetings and conferences across the country, including the upcoming GoldLab Symposium in Boulder this May. Driven by the hope that Mila has been given and a sense of obligation and ambition to help other families like her own, Julia is dedicated to turning Mila’s story into a brighter future for the millions of children like her daughter.

Mila’s Story
Mila’s Miracle Foundation
Julia’s Blog
Science Mag

Ian ReidComment