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BC Cancer Loses Longest Serving Scientist and Beloved Mentor

March 9, 2024

Dr. Connie Eaves - A founding member of BC Cancer’s initial research program in 1973 and the Terry Fox Laboratory in 1981

It is with great sadness that we share in the incredible loss of Dr. Connie Eaves — a pioneer at BC Cancer, a devoted mentor and an inspiration to women pursuing a career in science.

As a founding member of BC Cancer’s initial research program in 1973, few have made a bigger impact — or more discoveries — in hematopoietic, mammary and cancer stem cell biology. Dr. Eaves’ research in breast cancer and leukemia has translated into effective therapies worldwide.

An Officer of the Order of Canada, a UBC scholar and professor and distinguished scientist at BC Cancer, Dr. Eaves has been published in more than 550 academic papers and was a holder of eight patents. Her groundbreaking research led to many speaking opportunities here in Canada and around the world where she spoke passionately about her work.

Her greatest gift to the scientific community, however, and in which her legacy lives on, is the over one hundred graduate students and postdoctoral trainees she mentored throughout her five-decade career.

She affectionately referred to her trainees as “her children, but with a much shorter rearing time” — meaning towards the end of her tenure she was a great-great-great grandmother to many prolific researchers and scientific leaders who have made their own impactful contributions to health care and the B.C. biotech space.

Our sincere condolences go to Dr. Eaves’ husband and partner in science, Dr. Allen Eaves, her four children, 11 grandchildren and her extended family, and the many people who were fortunate to learn from or work alongside her at BC Cancer.

In late 2023, we had the privilege of unveiling the newly named Eaves Stem Cell Assay Laboratory at BC Cancer’s L.J. Blackmore Cancer Research Centre to honour Drs. Connie and Allen Eaves. An advanced clinical laboratory supporting BC Cancer’s Leukemia Bone Marrow Transplant Program, and related research initiatives, the lab is home to a team of dedicated staff, many of whom have been personally mentored by Dr. Eaves.

The BC Cancer Foundation is honoured to continue to support the Rising Star Awards, an initiative to advance the next generation of women and BIPOC leaders that was inspired by Dr. Eaves’ life-long advocacy for equal opportunities in science.

In lieu of flowers, donations honouring Connie’s incredible career and legacy can be made to the BC Cancer Foundation to support research taking place at the Terry Fox Laboratory. Please visit bccancerfoundation.com/ConnieEaves to make a donation.