WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, the Biotechnology Institute announced the winner of the Mentor of the Year Award, who will be recognized next week at the 2018 Biotechnology Industry Organization Annual Convention (BIO 2018) in Boston.
Each year, the Biotechnology Institute honors a past BioGENEius who best exemplifies the goals of its mission. This year, we honor Lecia Brown who works at GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines as a researcher and is a part of the Future Leaders Program in Vaccines Research and Development.
Lecia Brown was born in Jamaica, in the small rural community of Moores. At the age of 9, her family immigrated to Florida. In middle school, through the Physician Scientist Training Program, Lecia was first introduced to the research field. Now called STEMPREP, the program aimed to increase the number of minorities pursing doctorate degrees. By 2000, Lecia commenced on a journey learning laboratory concepts and techniques at the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the University of Louisville, and SickKids Hospital in Toronto. Although she was initially resistant to research, she quickly became fascinated after witnessing its impact in the world of medicine.
In 2006, she received an invitation to be a part of the BioGENEius challenge. Skipping senior prom, Lecia attended the event and created several memories as she had the opportunity to meet other individuals passionate about research, especially someone with HIV – a research field that later became her dissertation topic. Realizing that her love of science extended beyond bench work, Lecia became adamant advocate scientific opportunities remain accessible to minorities.
First earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Louisville, Lecia later went on to graduate a Master’s in Health Sciences from the University of South Florida where in 2017, she completed the neuroscience doctoral program focusing on HIV associated neurocognitive disorders. Through this, she was able to visit Kenya and Malawi, two countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with a high prevalence of HIV. Going on the field helped give her a newfound perspective on the diseases’ impact, giving her research purpose, increasing her dedication. While completing her studies, she was named McKnight Doctoral Fellow and was awarded with MHIRT grant to travel to pursue research in Kenya. She was commencement speaker of her graduating doctoral class and as an undergraduate, Lecia played Division 1 volleyball, eventually going on to play professional volleyball in Poland while working on her Master’s!
Although passionate about research, Lecia particularly enjoyed helping others, especially those from her homeland of Jamaica. She realized that there was a world beyond sitting in a desk, absorbing textbook passages and diagrams and regurgitating the information onto exams. It was time to apply her knowledge to areas beyond the classroom. As a result, she started a non-profit LAMB Foundation, the umbrella organization of all her philanthropic programs focusing on areas of health, athletics and education/scholarship. She is currently a board member of Bridge Kids International, a global organization that helps young people of Africa and the African Diaspora utilize their socially entrepreneurial spirit to increase economic development, education, environmental, girls’ rights, and health challenges to build sustainable communities. She is also a committee member of the Society of Scientific Advancement (SoSA), which focuses on improving cutting-edge science in the Caribbean.
When summarizing her life mission and the motivation that drives her to this day, Lecia often thinks of a quote: “True success is success that changes you and the people around you.” –author unknown. In the end, life is truly about what you can put into this world, not just for your own success, but for the greatness and success of others.