Women's History Month Stories

Susan Abu-Absi, PhD

Chief Technology and Manufacturing Officer, 2seventy bio

Why did you pursue a career in science? 

I have always loved math and science, and I have very supportive parents who, although not in STEM themselves, encouraged me to take on academic challenges. As a student, I really enjoyed learning about chemistry, biology, physics, math, etc. What inspired me to pursue a PhD in Chemical Engineering was the opportunity to apply science to real-world problems, such as developing manufacturing processes for complex oncology therapies. 

What are you most proud of in your career? 

I have been privileged to directly contribute to the development and launch of seven novel products. The first few were immuno-oncology monoclonal antibodies and the last three were cell and gene therapy products. Knowing that my work has made new treatments available to patients – and given them a chance at more time with their loved ones – is profound. 

How are you accelerating research or transforming the treatment landscape to create a world immune to cancer? 

I have dedicated my career to developing manufacturing technologies that produce drugs to treat cancer. I am currently the Chief Technology and Manufacturing Officer at 2seventy bio. We are developing autologous engineered T cell therapies to target hematologic and solid tumors. These products are very complex, and we work with speed and conviction to accelerate learning in the clinic and ultimately product approval. 

What advice do you have for women who are entering the field of science?  

The first advice I give to women entering science is to be your own best supporter. I know a lot of women who are quick to acknowledge the excellence around them but consistently underestimate their own capabilities. Advocate just as passionately for yourself as you do for others! The second piece of advice I give is to seek to build trusting relationships with others in the field. We all need friendship, support, and mentorship. Take the time to create that for yourself. 

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