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Yesterday, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett was given her flowers on the last day of Women’s History Month by CBSNews in recognition of her rightful place in history. Dr. Corbett led a team at the National Institute of Health which developed the life-saving Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Corbett, 36, is a researcher with a PhD in microbiology and immunology. She has worked as an assistant professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and as the Shutzer assistant professor at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. She first caught the research bug as a teenager while working in a lab at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Black Excellence saved countless lives.
In 2014, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett would later earn a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from UNC Chapel Hill before conducting her doctoral work in Sri Lanka to study the role of human antibodies in dengue virus pathogenesis.”I was an undergrad when the HIV pandemic was in an uproar. I was in Baltimore where they had some of the worst-case numbers. And one thing that I saw as a sociology and a biology major, was that it really only mattered what neighborhood you lived in,” she said.
“The same types of disparities that we saw with COVID-19, we saw with HIV, we’ve seen with so many other diseases,” she said. Appointed to the Vaccine Research Center in 2014, Dr. Corbett was the scientific lead of the VRC’s COVID-19 Team, with research efforts aimed at COVID-19 vaccines.
Since then, she has only gone on to save an incalculable number of lives around the world with her contributions to producing the Moderna vaccine. Yet it’s hardly time to celebrate.
“I haven’t been able to bask in it, really,” she explained. “There’s still so much work to be done, so much science to be done, that it’s hard to really soak in.” In February 2021, she was highlighted for the work she’s already done in Time’s “Time100 Next” list under the category of Innovators, with a profile written by Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett is Black History
“Someone presented about me during Black History Month, actually in my niece’s classroom, and she said, ‘that’s my aunt’ and no one believed her, so I had to drop into her classroom,” Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett said. “Those are some of the most refreshing moments to have kids recognize, and I, they think of me as a hero, so to speak.”