NEWS

Mornings with Brian Haldane: Kim Bowman and Dr. Wayne Newhauser

Kim Bowman and Dr. Wayne Newhauser join today’s installment of Mornings with Brian Haldane to talk pediatric cancer research. Kim Bowman is the founder of the Bella Bowman Foundation and Dr. Wayne Newhauser is a professor at LSU. The Bella Bowman Foundation has invested the majority of its time and research into radiation necrosis and its effects. Dr. Newhauser details the difficulty of conducting research in this area in the beginning; however, he shares the advancements made to better those suffering.

Bella Bowman Foundation Teams Up with LSU on Pediatric Cancer Research

September 8, 2021

On New Year’s Day 2011, seven-year-old Bella Bowman, from Baton Rouge, was diagnosed with an ependymoma brain tumor, which resulted from a rare side effect from proton radiation treatment she received. 

Bella passed away on December 23, 2011 from the brain stem necrosis. This prompted Bella's parents, Trey and Kim Bowman, to establish the Bella Bowman Foundation to support other families dealing with the struggles of having a child diagnosed with brain cancer. 

One of the foundation’s pillars of philanthropy is to further pediatric cancer research, so the Bella Bowman Foundation eventually teamed up with researchers at Louisiana State University to improve outcomes for children with cancer. 

Today, on Bella’s birthday, the Bella Bowman Foundation presents a, $75,000 pledge to the LSU research group to support a portion of the next phase of a research study to understand rare but potentially fatal side effects following cancer therapy, including radiation necrosis—the death of healthy tissues. This comes following the announcement of the recent $7.8 million estate gift from the late Dr. Charles M. Smith of Sulphur, La., to advance cancer treatment through a longstanding partnership with LSU and Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center that began in 1980.

“Our continued support towards radiation necrosis research is a passionate topic for the Bella Bowman Foundation,” said Trey Bowman. “Part of our donation will have an impact on LSU student researchers with funding needed to support their research and further their careers and passion to spearhead the fight against pediatric cancer.”

Led by Professor Wayne Newhauser, LSU’s Dr. Charles M. Smith Chair in Medical Physics and director of the LSU-Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center Dr. Charles M. Smith Medical and Health Physics Program, the LSU research team seeks to better understand the biophysical processes that can lead to a rare but potentially fatal side effect of radiation therapy.  

“Radiation necrosis is a difficult problem to study in patients for many reasons,” said Newhauser. “Suffice it to say, we need better research models so that we can accelerate the pace of key research questions. To that end, the project will focus on computation simulations of radiation injury of the brain, which enable large numbers of experiments to be run quickly, inexpensively, and without any risk of harming any animals or humans.” 

For Newhauser, finding methods that limit collateral health damage to patients post-medical treatments has been a driving force in his scientific career.

“We’re always trying to be aggressive in terms of treating the cancer but being conservative and gentle on the patient, so they don’t have a lot of serious consequences from the treatment, said Newhauser. “Everybody loves talking about the war on cancer, but few are keen to talk about the collateral damage from friendly fire, so most of my career has been devoted to trying to reduce the harmful effects in healthy tissues.”

Lydia J. Wilson, 2019 LSU PhD alumna, was a part of Newhauser’s research group and is advancing her career in the Department of Radiation Oncology at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. 

“I chose to pursue my PhD at LSU specifically to work with Wayne Newhauser because of our shared drive to improve the lives of children diagnosed with cancer,” said Wilson.” While that goal has been clear to me since high school, meeting the Bowmans and learning about Bella’s story has specifically driven every step I have taken since. Their story provided me with a concrete problem that I, as a physicist, have the tools to solve. Bella drove me to not only pursue a career in research, but postdoctoral training and a permanent position as a faculty member at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I see her in every patient whose treatment I work to improve, and the Bowmans in every parent I pass in the halls.

“Watching the progression of Lydia’s career enlightens me that Bella’s story has had a real impact on these LSU students conducting research,” said Bowman. “We are excited to support fundamental research that could lead to a breakthrough. Research laboratories working on this topic are few and far between, so we are doubly excited that this research is taking place right here in our home community.”    

 

“The longer-term ultimate goal is to provide cancer care specialists with tools to support clinical decision making, a complex task in personalized radiotherapy treatments for children,” said Newhauser. “We are grateful for the vision and support from the Bella Bowman Foundation. Bella’s story is an inspiration for us to work together to solve this rare but serious side effect.”

The partnership between the Bella Bowman Foundation and the LSU Medical Physics program began in 2013 with a seed grant of $22,000, followed by a $75,000 gift in 2014 in support of research to understand the factors that contribute to radiation injuries to the brain from proton radiotherapy and develop diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to reduce the severity of radiation necrosis, and ultimately eliminate occurrences of the rare side effect. Today’s pledge will provide an additional three-year, $75,000 of funding to the LSU-Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center Dr. Charles M. Smith Medical and Health Physics Program.

The Bella Bowman Foundation, founded in 2012, aims to create and support research initiatives for pediatric brain cancer, fund educational opportunities and offer non-medical comfort care to children diagnosed with cancer and the families who care for them. The Bella Bowman Foundation has a unique ability to address emerging challenges that a family faces following a child's diagnosis of cancer. Please visit www.bellabowman.org for more information. 

LSU-Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center Dr. Charles M. Smith Medical and Health Physics Program is a nationally recognized leading program in medical physics education, and the only such program in the state of Louisiana. Mary Bird Perkins is a leading provider of cancer care in southern Louisiana. 

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Mimi LaValle
LSU Physics & Astronomy
225-439-5633
mlavall@lsu.edu
 

Where is Cancer Research Headed Next?

Research behind cancer treatments are not just about the development of a cure but about the person in need of the cure.

Mission Statement

To create and support research initiatives for pediatric brain cancer, fund educational opportunities and offer non-medical comfort care to sick children and the families who care for them; and to offer vital support to healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donor Story:  Bella Bowman Foundation
Actions and Visions

•   Sponsored two research projects performed at LSU and Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center that aim to understand the causes of radiation tissue necrosis
•   Donated over 400 Comfort Care Bags to Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital
•   Hosted No Mo Chemo parties and room-to-room visits with Princesses
•   Donated 12 iPads to Oncology patients in our community
•   Return to school haircuts for KIDS with Cancer Services.
•   Collaborated with St. Jude with their annual Walk/Run to End Childhood cancer
•   Sponsored retreats and motivational seminars for staff at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital
•   Will support, advise and maintain multiple means of interaction in the oncology/hematology playrooms within the New Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital; in addition to financial support. We will also contribute to sponsoring a palliative care room within the newly planned Children's Hospital.

 

Bella's House

Kim and Trey have experienced first-hand end of life care with our child; Bella. We have a lot to be thankful for during Bella's last 10 days of life. Bella came first every day of during those 10 days. They we were able to do so much for her during this time (spiritually, emotionally, and physically) Whatever Bella wanted, they did it. Little did she know that she was teaching them. Bella made Courage, Faith, Belief and Strength tangible! This is why they want to build Bella's House.

They only want for other children and their caregivers, that have similar experiences and to be thankful too. Just the thought of "end of life" care for a child is horrific--no matter what the circumstance may be. The vision for Bella's House is to make tangible Courage, Faith, Belief and Strength for children and their family. Just as Bella did for Kim and Trey.

Bella Bowman Foundation Donates $75K to LSU Medical Physics Program

Gift Supports Research to Examine the Effects of Proton Radiation Therapy on Pediatric Cancer Patients

The Bella Bowman Foundation is pleased to announce a $75,000 grant to the LSU Medical Physics program, in partnership with the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, to establish the Bella Bowman Foundation Radiation Necrosis Research Fund to examine the risks of radiation injuries to the brain as a result of proton radiation therapy.

When seven-year-old Bella Bowman was diagnosed with brain cancer in early 2011, it was a rare side effect--brain stem necrosis--from proton radiation treatment that ultimately took her life. In remembrance of their courageous little girl, Trey and Kim Bowman established the Bella Bowman Foundation to help families caring for children living with brain cancer and further research to better understand the physics of how radiation causes necrosis.

"The outreach and support to us when we were caring for Bella was overwhelming," said Trey. "Our support system was so strong during that time and we knew it was our duty to give back."

As Trey searched for partners to support the Foundation's research activities he ran across an announcement about a research grant awarded to LSU's Wayne Newhauser that focused on improving the outcomes of childhood cancer survivors. Newhauser, the Dr. Charles M. Smith Professor of Medical Physics, is also the director of the LSU Medical Physics Program and chief of physics for the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center.

"I called him and he answered," said Trey. "I met with Wayne and found that he had done an unbelievable amount of research and he was just as passionate as we were about this."

The partnership between the Bella Bowman Foundation and the LSU Medical Physics program began in 2013 with a seed grant of $22,000. The $75,000 gift will support research to understand the factors that contribute to radiation injuries to the brain from proton radiotherapy and develop diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to reduce the severity of radiation necrosis, and ultimately eliminate occurrences of the rare side effect.

"Radiation necrosis is difficult to diagnose and can go undetected on CT scans. The cause of this often-deadly side effect is understudied and grossly underfunded. With the help of the Bella Bowman Foundation we can work to personalize radiotherapy treatments for children and improve the outcomes for children battling cancer," said Newhauser.
 

About The Bella Bowman Foundation
The Bella Bowman Foundation aims to create and support research initiatives for pediatric brain cancer, fund educational opportunities and offer non-medical comfort care to children diagnosed with cancer and the families who care for them. The Bella Bowman Foundation was founded in 2012 and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Bella Bowman Foundation has a unique ability to address emerging challenges that a family faces following a child's diagnosis of cancer. Please visit www.bellabowman.org for more information or call (225) 291-9499.

About Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center is a regional cancer care organization that has been fighting cancer for more than 40 years. With five centers in Baton Rouge, Covington, Hammond, Houma and Gonzales, its service area encompasses 18 parishes across southeast Louisiana. For more information, please visit www.marybird.org .

New Research Partnership Could Benefit Children with Brain Cancer


Bella Bowman Foundation and Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center team up New Research Partnership Could Benefit Children with Brain Cancer to study effects of proton therapy on pediatric patients

(Baton Rouge) -- When seven-year-old Bella Bowman from Baton Rouge was diagnosed early in 2011 with a brain tumor, it was a rare side effect from proton radiation treatment "brain stem necrosis" that ultimately took her life. This prompted Bella's parents, Trey and Kim Bowman, to establish the Bella Bowman Foundation to help other families dealing with the struggles of having a child diagnosed with brain cancer. Part of that help is to further research.......(more)

Gentle Hands Story

Through the ministry of local churches, parents who have lost children can honor their little ones and deepen their relationship with God, freeing them to help others.

The faith life of Bella Bowman, front right, inspired her family, sister, Baylor, front left; and back row, parents Kim and Trey Bowman. Photo provided by Lisa Bowman.....(more)

St. Jude Give Thanks Walk.

Bella was a patient of St. Jude in 2011 and her Care TEAM was the best!

We will always hold a special place in our hearts for St. Jude. We kindly ask you to consider supporting the ongoing efforts of St. Jude, so that they can continue to fight and beat cancer; for our kids!

By donating to TEAM Bella, your contribution will go directly to St. Jude. Every little bit helps towards the $1.5 million dollars a day, that it takes for St. Jude to operate.

Mistletoe Market
Comfort Care bags to OLOL Children's Hospital

We are so excited to report that the Bella Bowman Foundation delivered our first round of Comfort Care Bags to OLOL Children's Hospital. It is a bag full of items to help families feel more comfortable while they are dealing with difficult issues and decisions and also having to stay for an extended time in the hospital. We hope to be able to donate monthly to the hospital.

A BIG THANK YOU to Pam Rock, Pediatric Dental Specialist of Baton Rouge, Goudeau's Health Mart Pharmacy, and SOHO Boutique Salon for donating item for the bags.

Beads for Bella
WBRZ "To Make a Difference"
225 Magazine / Business Report Advertisement
96.1 The River Radiothon

Trey and Kim were live with Murphy, Sam and Jodi on March 2 at 7:00 am. The radiothon was a 3-day event that raised monies for Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital.

Bella's Story 96.1 The River
Live Broadcast #1
Live Broadcast #2
Live Broadcast #3 (also includes Bella's story)