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Brooke Peterson Gabster, M.D.

passed away peacefully at the age of 32 in Palo Alto, CA, on September 11, 2021. She was surrounded by her husband, sister, parents, and immeasurable love. 

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Brooke lived her life fully, joyfully, and deliberately—and never wasted a moment of her time. She was ambitious and inspired; full of grit and determination; public-spirited and deeply loving; adventurous and fun. Her family is forever grateful to all who helped her grow into the remarkable woman she became.

Born in Chesterfield, Missouri, Brooke grew up in nearby Manchester, swimming, dancing, and studying hard. After graduating from John Burroughs School as a National Merit Scholar in 2007, she enrolled at Princeton University, and her studies there—together with internships in Germany (Aukamm-Klinik), Thailand (International Rivers), and South Africa (Impumelelo Stellenbosch Academy for Social Innovation)—both fueled her passion for medicine and broadened her focus to global health care, health policy, and health disparities. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs in 2011.

After graduating, Brooke helped design and implement health programming for the federal government as a consultant with Deloitte in Washington, D.C., and it was there that she met the love of her life, Steve. In 2014, Brooke matriculated at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. She was recognized as a Bucksbaum Institute Student Scholar and inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, and a Pritzker Global Health Scholarship enabled her to enrich her understanding of global medicine at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana. At Pritzker, she gained valuable teaching experience and helped launch a program to improve patient-centered interprofessional clinical collaboration.

Having decided to pursue a residency in internal medicine, Brooke was thrilled to match with the Global Health track at Stanford University and moved with Steve to the Bay Area in June 2018. She aspired to improve cancer care in developing countries, and she already had plans to work in Uganda in 2020 when her life as she knew it was interrupted: she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in February 2019. As Brooke put it, she was compelled to take a deeper dive into oncology than she had ever intended.

Over the course of her disease, Brooke continued to contribute to the Stanford community and medicine more generally. She researched and applied all the knowledge she acquired to advance the treatment of her own disease. As both a physician and a patient, she published a poignant piece on her experience in JAMA. She worked part-time as a clinician as she was able; she analyzed the impact of COVID19 on female academics in an article published in The Lancet; and she delivered Grand Rounds on the topic at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Vibrant and inspiring, Brooke had a natural warmth and a way of lighting up any room. She loved her friends, her family, her work, and the outdoors; she loved learning, dancing, cycling, swimming, hiking, and discovering the world. Her many achievements, hopes, and aspirations—as well as her love, humor, and infectious smile—brought her family and friends tremendous joy. She led them to remarkable places and remarkable people; she enriched their lives.
Brooke is survived by her husband Steven, her sister Christa Peterson, her parents James and Leslie Peterson, and her maternal grandparents. She is also survived by three uncles, three aunts, and seven cousins as well as her parents-in-law James and Nancy Gabster and her sisters-in-law Elizabeth and Laura Gabster.

In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes contributions to Global Oncology, Inc., or, to support osteosarcoma research, to MIB Agents Family Funds #BecauseOfBrooke. Details are available here.

A celebration of Brooke’s life will take place at Stanford Memorial Church at 11 a.m. on October 9.


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