Lecia Brown was introduced to the field of research through the Physician Scientist Training Program (PSTP), headed by Moses Williams Ph.D. at Temple University. PSTP aims to increase the number of minorities pursuing this degree as well as the MD. Since 2000, Lecia has commenced on a journey researching and learning the concepts and techniques used in the laboratory setting. She has undertaken research endeavors at the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), University of Louisville and SickKids Hospital in Toronto. Her initial reaction to research was resistant, however, as she learned the deep impact of research on the world of medicine she quickly became fascinated in the work. As early as her middle school years, she began learning the concepts she now has built upon. Beginning in her 7th grade summer and continuing into her 8th grade summer she was accepted into the TMARC/PSTP program where she learned basic laboratory techniques, presentation skills, basic statistics, and scientific writing. She also acquired techniques such as pipetting & centrifugation, spectrophotometry, chromatography, agarose and SDS page gel electrophoresis, polymerase chain reaction technique and DNA extraction and purification. Then in 2002, she interned at Jackson Hospital where she assisted with the deliveries of babies (vaginal delivery and caesarian section).
Later she geared most of her summers into conducting research. Her first research experience was in the area of HIV during the summers of 2004 and 2003 at Temple University. During this time she studied the immunomodulatory effects of mu-opioid agonists on inflammation within the blood-brain-barrier and HIV-1 infection. She focused in 2004 on U937 cells used to conclude the RANTES production under stimulation, and 2003 on HL-60 cells use to conclude the MCP-1 production under stimulation. In 2005, she conducted research at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland where she studied asthma and the interaction between Regulator of G protein Signaling 13 (RGS13) and cAMP Response Element-Binding (CREB) proteins during signal transduction in mast cells and Ramos cells. In 2006 she continued her research experiences at the Institute of Cellular Therapeutics in Louisville, Kentucky. Here she studied the effect of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation-related chimerism on bone marrow transplants and diabetes in mice.
She then conducted research outside of the country in 2007 at SickKids Hospital in Toronto, Canada. She studied the mutations and evolution of pathogenic feline leukemia virus C as relates to Diamond Blackfan Anemia. As she continued to be interested in the field, she found another research project at the University of Louisville where she studied the effects of the lack of RPS19 and treatment of 5-Fluorouracil on P53 expression and apoptosis in TF-1 cells. In 2009, she went back to her home country of Jamaica where she was exposed to a more clinical research and care setting in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of West Indies. At this institution she aided pregnant mothers, observed and helped deliveries and other operations, and also assisted in a clinical study related to stretch marks and the best means of reducing this physical challenges for mothers.
After graduation from the University of Louisville with her Bachelors of Science in Biology, she conducted research in 2010 at CDC/NIOSH in Morgantown, West Virginia. This was the first experience she had with translational research that had a public health impact. She investigated free radicals and reactive oxygen species in biological systems with a specific focus on chromium toxicity.
She then entered into her masters program in Health Sciences at the University of South Florida from 2011-2013. During this time, she began working in the laboratory and will now complete her doctorate degree in the department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience. She is currently investigating the effect of ART HIV drugs on the early onset of Alzheimer’s Disease or HIV associated cognitive disorders. As a collaborative effort, in the summer of 2013 she took the initiative and traveled to CDC/KEMRI in Kisumu, Kenya to conduct research with Dr. Clement Zeh in the area of HIV. After successfully receiving a grant to support her work in Kenya from MHIRT associated with the University of California San Francisco, she is currently laying a foundation in Kisumu to aid in her future research. Her desires, while at this moment gear towards the understanding of HAART drugs, HIV viral load and the effects on the nervous system, will later expand to include relating this study to achieve a better understanding of long-term effects of HAART in children who will be living with HIV for an extended time. As she researched in these labs on several topics ranging from HIV, Asthma and Diamond Blackfan Anemia, the vast subject of HIV specifically stands out, as her deepest desire.
One of the greatest memories that have pointed her to research in HIV, was being in her first lab with Dr. Rogers at Temple University, and for the first time understanding the depth of HIV and how it works. Along with scientific research passions, she also has a desire to provide proper healthcare for her community in Jamaica. It was during her trip to Senegal, in 2008, that she first witnessed a young woman with HIV who would give birth to a HIV+ infant. She began to realize she wanted to make conditions and opportunities better for people with very few options or financial means. Seeing PLAN International, a non-governmental organization, maintain order in this developing country through what they called health huts or small clinics, she knew that she could also better conditions for those in need. This desire was later revamped when she interned at the University of West Indies Mona Campus in Jamaica in the department of Obstetrics. Subsequently, in 2008, she initiated a non-profit organization, LAMB Foundation Inc (www.lambinc.org), which incorporates Supernova, a scholarship program for children in Jamaica, LAMB’s Athletic Mind and Body (LAMB) since 2010, with hopes of soon initiating Loving All Mothers and Babies (LAMB) Birthing Center & Clinic to provide better care for her home country.
In 2017, she completed her PhD in Neuroscience in which her dissertation focused on the potential role of HIV antiretroviral Efavirenz on HIV associated neurocognitive disorders. She is currently a Future Leaders Program Associate at GlaxoSmithKline.