National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: Justin Brown’s Focus on Helping Cancer Patients Live Longer

March 20, 2023

For more information, contact Ernie Ballard,, 225-263-2677

Justin BrownBATON ROUGE – Justin Brown was only 14 when his father passed away from colon cancer. Dr. Brown’s future career path became instantly clear.

“My mission is motivated by the need to prevent children from having to watch their parents melt away from cancer,” he said.

Although a sizable percentage of patients with colon cancer initially beat it, 30 to 50 percent of them relapse—and 90 percent of those who relapse die within two years. This is exactly what happened to Dr. Brown’s father. At just 46 years old, he was diagnosed with early-stage colon cancer. Usually, patients under age 50 are not screened, so Dr. Brown’s father was too young to receive the devastating prognosis. He was cancer-free after surgery, but at 48, he relapsed.

Dr. Brown was a Research Fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and was recruited to Pennington Biomedical to lead the newly created Cancer Metabolism Research Program. His research has a particular focus on cancer survivorship and prevention through nutrition, weight control, physical activity and chemopreventive strategies.

Evidence suggests that patients who are physically active after their first cancer diagnosis are less likely to relapse. Dr. Brown wants to understand how and why losing weight, managing weight and managing diabetes can prevent a relapse. His research builds on Pennington Biomedical’s strengths and further expands the Center’s collaborative relationships with regional cancer centers and health professionals.

“We know that small steps toward healthy lifelong habits can make a big difference in how cancer survivors feel, function, and survive,” he said. “With our new program, cancer survivors across Baton Rouge can now enroll in a 10-week program to determine if a lifestyle program that includes exercise, diet, and weight management helps cancer survivors improve overall wellness and prevents cancer recurrence.”

Reflecting on his work, Dr. Brown said, “My father left too early, but at the end of the day he is the motivation behind the work that I do here every day, finding ways to help people live longer with a higher quality of life. I am grateful for all those who have generously invested in our vision of a world where cancer survivors thrive.”

To learn more about this cancer program, visit

Video: Dr. Justin Brown's Cancer Research - A Father's Legacy

About the Pennington Biomedical Research Center

The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. The Center architected the national “Obecity, USA” awareness and advocacy campaign to help solve the obesity epidemic by 2040. The Center conducts basic, clinical, and population research, and is affiliated with LSU.

The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes over 480 employees within a network of 40 clinics and research laboratories, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Its scientists and physician/scientists are supported by research trainees, lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and other support personnel. Pennington Biomedical a state-of-the-art research facility on a 222-acre campus in Baton Rouge.

For more information, see

Pennington Biomedical Research Center
6400 Perkins Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70808