In Memoriam: Laura Bowers, Passionate Researcher & MBC Advocate

The MBC Alliance celebrates the life and work of member Laura Bowers, who passed away on May 20, 2024. Laura, who lived with metastatic breast cancer for six years, was a bright and passionate cancer researcher who significantly advanced the Alliance’s mission through her dedication and expertise.

Originally trained as a clinical dietitian, Laura became fascinated by the impact of nutrients and diet patterns on disease risk. In 2009, she began a PhD in nutritional sciences at the University of Texas in Austin and worked in an oncology research lab studying the link between nutrition, obesity and breast cancer. After earning her doctorate, she became an Associate Professor in Purdue University’s Department of Nutrition Science, where she established her own lab to study the mechanisms linking obesity to increased risk of breast cancer progression and colon cancer incidence.

Laura’s professional work was cut short in 2022 when she was diagnosed with MBC with brain and bone metastases. Retiring early from Purdue, she focused her passion and knowledge on impacting the lives of breast cancer patients. She completed advocacy training programs from nonprofit Alliance members Susan G. Komen® and Living Beyond Breast Cancer; and became a board member of the Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation supporting the grant process for their Alamo Advocate Program, a patient advocate education program held in conjunction with the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS).

As an individual member of the MBC Alliance, Laura supported legislative advocacy and educated patients and the public about metastatic breast cancer. She was also a valued committee member supporting our Breast Cancer Brain Metastasis Initiative: The Marina Kaplan Project, a patient-led effort to accelerate urgently-needed research on breast cancer brain metastasis through increased funding and stakeholder influence.

From university labs to breast cancer research conferences and trainings, Laura’s kindness, intelligence and determination to make a difference were cherished by all who had the privilege of working with her.

“From the beginning, [Laura] was very much more demanding of herself than anyone else was,” recalled Linda deGraffenried, the oncology researcher who worked with Laura at the University of Texas, in an article in The Scientist – a publication that named her a ‘Scientist to Watch.’ “She has probably to this day been my most productive, and one of the brightest, graduate students that I’ve interacted with.”

“Laura was a truly dedicated breast cancer advocate,” wrote her colleagues at Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation, in a memorial post. “She refused to let this disease get in the way of her work…Laura’s positivity, optimism and unstoppable spirit will never cease to inspire us.”

We are endlessly grateful for Laura’s contributions to the MBC community and, as a united coalition, are committed to honoring her work and memory by continuing to advocate for research to extend and enhance the quality of life for those living with MBC.