• Beverly Laird…Research Advocate Extraordinaire!

    Personal Stories, Advocacy


     Post by Komen AIS Steering Committee

    On Thanksgiving, we lost one of our best. Poignant because Bev Laird lived her life with love and gratitude. And it is with love and gratitude that we now celebrate the blessings she shared with us.

    Among these was her pioneering, energetic passion for:

    • connecting people with the promise of research,
    • connecting researchers with the insights to be discovered from patients, and
    • nurturing young medical researchers…our hope for a healthier future.

    Beyond serving as an advocate grant reviewer and active advocate for Susan G. Komen’s research program, Bev leaves a legacy rich in pathways for us all to explore in our own work.

    Her efforts in research advocacy began through her relationships with early-career investigators in Komen Scholar Dr. Danny Welch’s lab (then at the University of Alabama at Birmingham).

    Dr. Welch remembered his friend and colleague, saying, “Bev was one of the most energetic, creative, hardworking advocates I have ever known. Bev was one of those people who come into your life and leave an indelible mark. Her indomitable spirit lives on and will continue to motivate.”

    Through her relationship with Komen North Central Alabama, she facilitated Lunch & Learns, uniting researchers with breast cancer patients and survivors, to talk about their research the impact on patients. The Lunch & Learns left attendees with a greater understanding of research and of patients’ needs and hopes, along with a passion for supporting research designed to ultimately improve care for patients.

    Advocated in Science Steering Committee

    Under Bev’s leadership, Komen NC Alabama also sponsored young postdoctoral students and junior faculty so they could participate in a major scientific research forum to meet with leading researchers and learn more about the most promising research underway.

    For four years, Bev and Dr. Welch mentored young people at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting, giving these young innovative minds the opportunity to attend AACR’s Scientist-Survivor Program events where they met other advocates. The relationships they built have facilitated numerous research collaborations across the country.

    Bev regularly participated in graduate/postdoctoral fellowship classes, helping students understand the importance of communicating their research to the “lay audience,” using terms and analogies that people could relate to. In speaking with classes, she shared her journey. She made cancer “real” for the students and postdocs who were preparing to launch careers in breast cancer research.

    Bev also wrote letters of support for postdocs applying for academic positions, and introduced them to local advocates she knew.

    Bev Laird and Promise Grant Recipients

    Bev’s accomplishments and leadership roles spanned the cancer advocacy and research fields.  Within Komen, she was a beloved “sister” and breast cancer “thriver.”  She was extensively involved with her Affiliate, including her role as a founding member, and was active with the Komen Advocates in Science (AIS), serving on our Steering Committee.

    In the coming year, Komen will be launching an advocate mentor program. Although this program is still in development, the purpose of the program is to match newly Komen-funded Postdoctoral Fellows (PDFs) with a Komen research advocate, known as our Advocates in Science.

    The program aims to inspire young researchers to make a greater difference for patients by working with and learning from the real life experiences of those who have or are facing breast cancer. It will also empower advocates to have a greater impact by learning more about research through first-hand experience.

    For her extraordinary, pioneering leadership in working with young researchers and connecting them with our greater Komen community, the AIS Steering Committee dedicates the launch of the advocate mentor program to Bev.  Her legacy will serve as the inspiration and cornerstone of the depth and breadth of the relationships advocates, researchers and affiliates can achieve working together to put an end to cancer’s devastation.

    Thank you, Bev, for forever being our friend, teacher and advocate extraordinaire!

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