Timeless Values, Selfless Examples

Laurie Kraus Lacob Left an Indelible Mark on Stanford Medicine and Its People

 If there’s one characteristic that typified Laurie Kraus Lacob, it was her generosity of spirit. Taught from a young age the value of community and the importance of giving back, the Stanford alumna (MA ’82) believed in taking care of people both near and far and making an impact in the areas she was so passionate about.

Marked by compassion and kindness with a healthy dose of tenacity woven in, Laurie was a force to be reckoned with in her local community, where she volunteered for numerous organizations and supported several philanthropic causes. She also extended her impact around the world, dedicating herself to various organizations with global reach, particularly those focusing on education, gender equity, health, and social justice. 

But perhaps nowhere did she make a greater contribution than at Stanford Medicine, where her altruism has had untold benefits not only for the institution and its people—but for all of humankind.

 Laurie Kraus Lacob

A Life of Purpose

Whether it was raising her four children—Kirk, Kelly, Kent, and Kayci—or serving on numerous committees and boards, Laurie approached everything she did with verve. And despite receiving a diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 2004, she continued to lead her life with fortitude and purpose until her passing in June 2023. 

Although she faced considerable health challenges during the many years she battled cancer, Laurie remained true to her commitment to giving back, continuing to make significant financial gifts, but also gifts of the most precious of commodities: her time.

“My mom fought cancer with every single bit of grit and determination she had—not just her own cancer, but for all women,” says her daughter Kelly. “She worked alongside Stanford’s faculty to develop research programs, create endowed teaching positions, put on benefits to raise awareness and funds, build physical spaces of healing ... all while going through treatment herself. She’s my hero.” 

Laurie’s volunteer roles at Stanford Medicine were indeed many and varied. She was a founding member of the Stanford Women’s Cancer Center and the steering committee for Under One Umbrella, a philanthropic event that supports the Stanford Women’s Cancer Center, proudly serving as a member for more than a decade. In addition, she was a long-time member of the Stanford Cancer Institute Council and a board member of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health and the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford.

Laurie with Jonathan Berek, MD, MMSc, and Steven Artandi, MD, PhD

“Laurie was a devoted champion for women’s health,” says Lisa Schatz, co-founder and chair emeritus of Under One Umbrella. “Her dedication and contributions to this community will be felt for many years to come.”

Jonathan Berek, MD, MMSc, the Laurie Kraus Lacob Professor, senior advisor to the Stanford Cancer Institute, and director of the Stanford Women’s Cancer Center, worked closely with Laurie for nearly 20 years and points to the profound impact she had on him and so many others at Stanford. “Laurie was a genuinely extraordinary woman,” he says. “Whether she was contributing her intellect and patient perspective as an advisor to our cancer research and care programs or serving on the Under One Umbrella steering committee, she worked tirelessly to raise support and awareness for women’s cancers.” 

Investing in Research and People

Not long after she was diagnosed with cancer, Laurie made her first gift to Stanford Medicine, helping to fund research into ovarian and other gynecologic cancers. Over the years, she continued to make significant contributions supporting that research while expanding her philanthropy into other areas, including those made to directly benefit patient care. For instance, because she wanted Stanford to offer one unified place where women could go for cancer treatment—“under one umbrella”—she made a transformative gift to help establish and support the Stanford Women’s Cancer Center. 

Laurie also funded several professorships and directorships to recruit and support physician-scientist leaders across Stanford. As Dr. Berek says: “So much of what we’ve been able to achieve here started with Laurie’s simple question, ‘How can I help you succeed?’”

Steven Artandi, MD, PhD, the Laurie Kraus Lacob Director of the Stanford Cancer Institute and the Jerome and Daisy Low Gilbert Professor, says the importance of Laurie’s support can’t be overstated. “Laurie’s generosity in the areas of cancer research and patient care is unparalleled,” he says. “I and so many others owe her a huge debt of gratitude for helping to advance scientific discoveries and ensuring that we continue to provide expert, compassionate clinical care to all cancer patients and their families.”

But perhaps the most meaningful of her many gifts—and the most transformative—was the last one she made.

The Laurie K. Lacob Pavilion

Having been a cancer patient herself, Laurie was intent on ensuring that her final gift would have an immediate, direct, and permanent impact on clinical care delivery. “I really want to make a significant difference in the care experience for the current generation of patients,” she said at the time. And the way she decided to do that was through helping to fund a new cancer pavilion at the Stanford Medicine Cancer Center—one in which patients would receive treatment in an environment of comfort, privacy, and dignity. 

Laurie with her children, Kirk, Kelly, Kent, and Kayci (from left)

The primary inpatient cancer center for Stanford Medicine, the Laurie K. Lacob Pavilion is unlike any before it. In addition to offering advanced medical treatments and outstanding nursing care, the space is designed to be a soothing, healing place, embodying all the elements Laurie knew are so important for cancer patients and their loved ones. “It is believed that a patient’s mental and emotional outlook can have a significant impact on their journey to health, and nobody embodied a more positive perspective in the face of such difficult obstacles than our mom,” says her daughter Kayci. “She knew how much the patient environment could affect somebody going through cancer treatment, and she desperately wanted to improve circumstances for others like her in the immediate future. Her gift will be unequivocally life-changing for literally countless cancer patients and health care workers.”

Reflecting the aspects of cancer care that Laurie found so important, the Lacob Pavilion features private, single-occupancy rooms, with plenty of space to accommodate family and friends—even overnight ones, with sofa beds in each room, and a table for patients to comfortably enjoy meals with their loved ones. 

Aesthetics also play a role in the new space, with large windows allowing natural light to fill each patient room and enhance healing. “I think it’s important to be able to see the outside world while you’re in the hospital,” says patient care manager Beth Wu, RN, BSN.

Beyond improving the patient experience, the pavilion, which opened to patients on July 17, 2023, also enhances the delivery of patient care and the work environment for staff. Every room is equipped with overhead exam lights and most feature patient lifts, helping to increase safety. 

Unfortunately, Laurie’s life was cut short before she could witness the opening of the pavilion that bears her name. But her legacy lives on in the compassionate, expert care delivered every day to people in need. “The new pavilion stands as a testament to Laurie’s unwavering commitment to cancer patients,” Dr. Berek says.

A Profound Legacy

It’s almost impossible to convey the impact that Laurie Kraus Lacob had—and continues to have—on her community, on Stanford, and, most importantly, on patients.

“Laurie’s legacy is cemented not just by her philanthropy, but by her decades of service in supporting the needs of others,” says Lloyd Minor, MD, the Carl and Elizabeth Naumann Dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at Stanford University. “Whether it’s our community’s under-resourced children or the generations of cancer patients who will benefit from the innovative discoveries and care that she enabled, Laurie has improved the lives of people around the world. I couldn’t be more grateful.”

If you would like to make a gift to the Stanford Women’s Cancer Center in Laurie’s honor, please click the button below.