In a challenging time that will leave a significant mark on history, Kizzmekia Corbett and her team of scientists provided a spark of hope. Corbett was the scientific lead of the team that developed the Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, the strongest weapon against the novel coronavirus. The vaccine's distribution marked a turning point in the global pandemic, saving millions of lives that may otherwise have been lost. Corbett’s mark on history will be one of optimism and hope for the future, and an opportunity to hear her speak comes with the final Discover Science lecture of the season on April 28.
Corbett received her dual bachelor’s degrees from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in biological sciences and sociology in 2008. She went on to get her doctoral degree in microbiology and immunology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2014. After graduating, she worked with Barney Graham in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Vaccine Research Center working on coronaviruses. She and Graham were able to use their years of preparatory work to quickly develop one of the most effective mRNA vaccines poised to fight against COVID-19.
Her work on the Moderna mRNA vaccine earned Corbett a TIME Magazine Hero of the Year designation. She was also recently part of a clue on Jeopardy. Perhaps most importantly since developing the vaccine, Corbett has continued to work on battling misinformation surrounding vaccines.
“Thanks to the scientists leading the groundbreaking development and elegant construction of these COVID-19 vaccines, we now have a list of near-infinite possibilities,” TIME Magazine wrote. “…Scientists gifted humanity with the ultimate prize—a weapon to fight the pandemic. It’s now up to humanity to return the favor.”
Corbett joined the T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University in 2021 as an assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases.
Corbett will be presenting her lecture, “Race to the COVID-19 Vaccine: Then & Now” on April 28 at 7 p.m., and her lecture has been designated as this season’s Milt D. Glick Discover Science Lecture. The lecture will be held in the Davidson Mathematics and Science Center’s Redfield Auditorium. Parking will be available on the fourth and fifth levels of the Brian Whalen Parking Complex. Registration for this event is required.