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Brigham Legacy Society member Janna Brown with her late husband, Russ, on vacation in Paris

Brown gives to research in memory of husband

In 2010, Janna Brown and her husband of 28 years, Russ, were vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard when Russ suddenly became gravely ill.

“We both got massive head colds, and within 24 hours Russ couldn’t breathe,” Brown recalls. “His suspected virus developed into pneumonia, and he was flown to Brigham and Women’s Hospital.”

Shortly before making the trip east from their home in Oregon, he had been diagnosed with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML), a rare blood cancer that made it difficult for his immune system to fight the pneumonia.

“The doctors and nurses at BWH did everything they could for Russ,” Brown says, but he passed away after five weeks in intensive care.

To honor her husband’s memory, Brown made an initial contribution in 2012 to BWH’s Division of Hematology for the laboratory of Benjamin L. Ebert, MD, PhD. Ebert’s team, which is at the forefront of studying myeloid malignancies such as CMML, is getting closer to identifying who is at risk, as well as the genetic underpinnings of these conditions. Their goal is to better understand how malignant cells develop and to find possible drug treatments to block their growth.

“Dr. Ebert’s work makes me hopeful for future treatment possibilities,” says Brown.

Inspired by his vision, she recently made a significant contribution to BWH through a charitable remainder trust. With this gift, Brown joins the Brigham Legacy Society, an honorary group of individuals who have included the hospital in their estate plans.

“Giving this way allows me to make the greatest impact for Dr. Ebert,” she says. “Researchers rely on philanthropy to get closer to unlocking new solutions, and I’m pleased to support this work.”

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