The power of friendship

Remembering Shelley Rowland
Photo of two women: Eleanor Mosca (left) with Shelley Rowland

In the summer of 2022, Shelley Rowland of La Jolla lost her life to cancer. A couple of weeks following her passing, we learned Shelley made a charitable bequest by naming La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) as beneficiary of her retirement account.

While Shelley attended a handful of LJI events, we didn’t have an opportunity to get to know her well and wish we had. We were struck by her generosity, and that one of her final acts was to push immunology research forward for the benefit of future generations.

We wanted to learn more about who Shelley was during her lifetime. So, we reached out to her friends and they were eager to share stories about Shelley. We quickly came to understand from this devoted and loving group of people that beyond being a loyal friend, two of Shelley’s most prominent characteristics were selflessness and generosity. Indeed, both attributes shine through in this charitable act.

Shelley’s life was enriched by close friendships she held dear. She did everything with her friends, including volunteering, adopting and caring for stray cats, participating in activities and events at church, planting community gardens and rallying support for the issues and programs about which she was passionate. Shelley even roomed with her friend Eleanor Mosca, who was right by her side when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Eleanor is a retired nurse with a keen interest in biomedical research. Together, Shelley and Eleanor learned about the disease, possible treatments, and monitored the latest research breakthroughs by watching webinars and searching for clinical trials. As Shelley’s medical team grew, and her treatment became increasingly complicated, Eleanor stayed by Shelley’s side as her medical care advocate. The important role Shelley’s friends played in her life is evident. So, it is no surprise to learn Shelley was introduced to LJI through her friend Eleanor. They attended LJI events together where they made new friends and learned about cutting-edge research in immunology.

In her final months, Shelley decided to update her retirement account, adding LJI as a charitable beneficiary. While we didn’t have the opportunity to thank her in her lifetime, we want to honor Shelley and the wonderful friend she was to people, to animals, and to her favorite charities. We are so grateful for her visionary support of a future that advances Life Without Disease.

To honor her legacy and generosity, the team at LJI is carefully ensuring Shelley’s gift will achieve just what she intended. Recently, the Schoenberger Lab at LJI, led by Professor Stephen Schoenberger, Ph.D., was awarded a grant from Curebound to pursue novel cancer immunotherapy research that could lead to new treatments for ovarian cancer. While this grant provides the majority of funding needed for the project, additional funds are required to complete the budget and enable the work to begin. Shelley’s gift will fill this gap and enable Dr. Schoenberger and his team to move full steam ahead.

If you have named LJI as a beneficiary in your will or retirement plan, please let us know. We would appreciate the opportunity to thank you, welcome you to our Bonsai Legacy Society, and keep you informed about the research that’s important to you. Please reach out to Clare Grotting at with any questions.