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Alumni Update: Travis Bray, chemistry ’08

Published: 06/14/2016

By: Lindsay Miles Penny

Travis Bray is the founder and executive director of Hereditary Colon Cancer Foundation. He is a colon cancer “previvor,” surviving a predisposition to cancer due to a hereditary mutation. At age 15, and after losing his father and grandfather to Familial Adenomatous Polyposis, Bray had his colon removed to prevent a 100-percent risk of cancer. After working for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory, and becoming very ill, Bray started the Hereditary Colon Cancer Foundation as a way to educate and inform families and medical professionals affected by the disease.

Bray was invited to Auburn to attend a presentation by Thomas E. Albrecht-Schmitt, and shortly after, selected his lab to conduct his graduate studies.

He graduated from Auburn with a 4.0 GPA, numerous awards, and had published more than a dozen publications.

“After Auburn, I joined Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as the Berkeley Actinide Post-Doctoral Fellow where I researched heavy metal gas phase chemistry for two years. My shining achievement was to build a negative pressure glove box to interface with a gas phase analytical instrument (mass spectrometer) that was approved for transuranium elements. In short, I helped develop one of the only instruments in the world capable of probing the gas phase chemistry of elements like Plutonium,” said Bray. “At age 35, I was the same age as my paternal grandfather when he died of colon cancer. My father had passed the year before with issues related to the disease. I thought my time was short. After months of being extremely ill, we found the cause of my illness and were able to correct it with diet modifications. During this six-month period of time, I became very aware of how FAP and other forms of hereditary colon cancer affect families around the world. I was amazed how well I had it and, with a new lease on life and a clear vision of how to fill the needs of this community, I quit my job at Argonne and started what is now the Hereditary Colon Cancer Foundation.” 

Bray’s foundation works with families and the medical community to help fill the gaps in care and services for those diagnosed with FAP. The foundation helps facilitate healthy social networking opportunities and have maintained a connection to research by being a premier tool for clinical trial recruitment and advocacy in Washington, D.C.

For more information on the Hereditary Colon Cancer Foundation, visit the website.

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