New Research Partnership Could Benefit Children with Brain Cancer

Bella Bowman Foundation & MBPCC team up to study effects of proton therapy on pediatric patients


(Baton Rouge, La.) 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.

“Very little research has been done on the side effects of proton therapy for children with cancer,” said Trey Bowman. “We are fortunate to have found Dr. Wayne Newhauser, chief of physics at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center right here in Baton Rouge, who is heading a team researching side effects from radiation therapy.” Dr. Newhauser is also the Dr. Charles M. Smith Chair of Medical Physics at LSU, and Director of the Medical and Health Physics Graduate Education Program at LSU in partnership with Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center.

The Bella Bowman Foundation has announced a seed grant of $22,000 to the medical physics department of Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center to support research that aims to better understand the physics of how radiation causes necrosis. In particular, the funds provide a stipend to a medical physics graduate student, who will perform the research under the supervision of medical physics faculty.  Preliminary results from the study are expected by late 2014.

“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 Dr. 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.”
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 for more information or contact Trey Bowman at (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