#LLABlog – Meet Kizzmekia S. Corbett, an African American woman and lead scientist behind COVID-19 vaccine

Kizzmekia S. Corbett


Kizzmekia Corbett, a viral immunologist and research fellow in the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), takes the lead to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus. She is the scientific lead for Dr Barney Graham’s coronavirus team based in Seattle.

Corbett is an expert on the front lines of the global race for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, and someone who will go down in history as one of the key players in developing the science that could end the pandemic.

She is one of the National Institutes of Health’s leading scientists behind the government’s search for a vaccine. Corbett is part of a team at NIH that worked with Moderna, the pharmaceutical company that developed one of the two mRNA vaccines that have shown to be more than 90% effective.

Moderna’s vaccine is expected to receive emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this month. The other mRNA vaccine, developed by Pfizer, won emergency use authorization from the FDA recently.

Kizzmekia Corbett

Even before Corbett took on one of the most challenging tasks of her professional career, she was a force to be reckoned with. As a student, she was selected to participate in Project SEED, a program for gifted minority students that allowed her to study chemistry in labs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and eventually landed a full ride to the University of Maryland Baltimore County, according to The Washington Post.

Corbett spent her summers at laboratories and earned a summer internship at the NIH, the very place where she would be instrumental in developing a vaccine for the coronavirus.

After graduating, Corbett enrolled in a doctorate program at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she worked as a research assistant studying virus infections and eventually received a PhD in microbiology and immunology, according to her LinkedIn page.

Her work with such pathogens began when she joined the NIH’s Vaccine Research Center as a postdoctoral fellow in 2014.

It’s a great inspiration to see Kizzmekia Corbett lead an exceptional scientific breakthrough and help solve the world greatest challenge. We are proud of you. Keep up the good work.


This article was originally published on ABC News


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