Growing up in Bangalore, India, Sushma Ogram dreamed of becoming a doctor so she could help people. Hailing from a family with a long tradition of women who were physicians and scientists, the study of biology came naturally to her.

When she contracted polio, Sushma’s interest in biology narrowed to learning more about viruses. She moved to the U.S. to earn a Ph.D. in molecular virology and, during her academic career, had the opportunity to work more closely with the very virus that plagued her as a child.

“The extensive background I have in molecular virology has proven to be invaluable in my current position at Brammer Bio where we are producing viruses that are used for gene therapy,” Sushma said. “These engineered viruses are used in clinical trials to treat inherited diseases such as hemophilia, spinal muscular atrophy, lysosomal storage diseases and several eye diseases.”

The results Sushma and her team at Brammer Bio produce is invaluable to the treatment of disease and the development of modern medicine. As the union of engineering and life sciences, biotechnology is a rapidly growing field that requires both engineers and biologists to develop, design and manufacture products from lab to market.

Can this type of industry advancement be sustained in Florida? Sushma thinks so.

“The proximity of the different state universities along The Corridor, wherein multidisciplinary research is being conducted at a high level, can provide the talent pool of engineers and scientists for local biotechnology companies.”

Brammer Bio is located less than 15 miles from the main campus of the University of Florida, where the biological engineering undergraduate program was recently ranked No. 12 in the nation.

Education is just part of the equation for Sushma. Over the years, she has learned that teamwork and collaboration are crucial elements of innovation and, with that in mind, she often mentors young scientists to aid in her industry’s efforts to stay at the forefront of medicine.

“Brammer Bio is setting the standard for the manufacturing of gene therapy, and we are known for our technical expertise and dynamic learning environment,” Sushma explained. “It is so rewarding to know that our products will be used to help improve the lives of patients, and potentially, cure them of disease. That is what makes me want to come to work every morning.”

Instead of becoming a physician as she originally planned, Sushma became part of an integral team working behind the scenes to develop the latest in cell and gene therapy and, ultimately, improve quality of life. Her childhood dream to help people has become reality.

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