Remembering a Friend

Joe Brown and his wife Nina accept TFN’s 2007 Samantha Smoot Activist Award from TFN President Kathy Miller.

The TFN family lost a dear friend yesterday with the passing of Joe Brown of Houston. Joe was one of the founders of Texans for Advancement of Medical Research (TAMR), which, under Joe’s leadership, grew to become one of the state’s leading voices in the struggle to promote and protect stem cell research.

TFN worked alongside Joe and his wife Nina over a number of years, always finding them a source of encouragement and inspiration. That’s why we awarded them our highest award — the Samantha Smoot Activist Award — in 2007, noting the things that made them such effective advocates and remarkable people:

When Nina was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1985, she and Joe resolved that while circumstances may have determined their lives, they could shape their lives by what they made of their circumstances. Helping those who suffer from debilitating disease – and fighting for stem cell research – became their passion. TFN witnessed the depth of this rare and remarkable passion firsthand during the 80th session of the Texas Legislature when Nina and Joe seemed to be everywhere: waiting in a House committee hearing until the wee hours of the night to testify, speaking to crowds at press conferences, and crisscrossing the state to speak to groups about the hope offered by stem cell research.

Even to the last, Joe would call TFN’s offices regularly to check in, making sure the fight to defend medical research was still joined, even if he couldn’t be on the front lines any longer. We honor his commitment and courage. We’ll miss him.

The family has requested that donations be made in Joe’s memory to the Houston Area Parkinson Society online at

TAMR sent the following remembrance earlier today:

Dear Friend of TAMR,

It is with a heavy heart that we share the sad news that Joe Brown, founding member and past president of Texans for Advancement of Medical Research (TAMR) and The Alliance for Medical Research (TAMR-Ed), passed away on Oct. 10, 2012, after a lengthy illness. Many of you knew Joe as a tireless advocate for medical research that may lead to treatments and cures for some of the most deadly and debilitating diseases.

During his 10 years as a leader in Texas in the fight to protect regenerative medical research in our state, Joe volunteered countless hours and donated untold dollars to the cause. He recruited many talented people to TAMR and TAMR-Ed and traveled to Austin many times to testify in support of medical research and to educate policy-makers about the potential for cures and treatments.

Despite the challenges TAMR faced in working to protect research in Texas, and the increasing challenges of Joe’s health, he continued until very recently to be engaged in public policy in Texas and at the national level.

Joe always had a smile on his face and a positive attitude, an unwavering commitment to the cause, and a devotion for his beloved wife Nina that was an inspiration to many.

Joe is survived by Nina, his children, Gregg and Toby Brown and Stacy and Scott Doctor, and four adoring grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, at noon at Congregation Beth Israel, 5600 N. Braeswood, Houston.

In celebration of Joe’s remarkable life,

Lorraine Chammah, TAMR President
Veronica De La Garza, TAMR-ED President