My Story in Science: The journey to the development of the vaccine that changed the world
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett-Helaire speaks about her extraordinary journey to becoming a scientist, from her first internship at 16 years old to her current professorship at Harvard and all of the failures and successes along the way.
Leading Teams To Do Great Things
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett-Helaire led a team of scientists at the NIH in the development of the vaccine that changed the world. Under enormous pressure she and her team accomplished a timely goal that saved lives, re-opened global economies, and brought the world together again. In this talk, Dr. Corbett-Helaire discusses how teams can ignite around a shared purpose, overcome setbacks, and achieve monumental goals.
Dream Big, Do the Work, and Make a Difference
As a scientist whose research changed the world, Dr. Corbett-Helaire inspires us to dream big. In sharing her story, she inspires us to do the work, set important goals, and answer the call when the need or opportunity arises. Dr. Corbett-Helaire electrifies every room with her optimistic message about how each of us can apply the fullness of ourselves to live a life with purpose.
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett-Helaire received a resounding rave review for her fireside chat with Deloitte
Groundbreaking scientist Dr. KIZZMEKIA S. CORBETT-HELAIRE was a riveting keynote speaker for Deloitte Government and Public Services’ (GPS) recent all-hands call centered on trailblazing women leaders and health equity. The host shared, “it was an honor to shine a little bit of light on Dr. Corbett’s journey in science that led to her becoming the lead scientist behind the Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. Her discussion on knowing when and how to say no, on setting boundaries and delegating when appropriate, and the real limits of our conversations on resilience served as a timely reminder as we continue addressing the challenges of the pandemic head-on.” Dr. Corbett-Helaire is a sought-after speaker for her ability to communicate complicated science in a highly accessible way, the historic impact she and her work have had on the world, and her powerful message of working together to make a difference.
The attendees raved about Dr. Corbett-Helaire’s appearance as a keynote speaker: “’I’m privileged to see you, and I do truly see you.’ … ‘Thank you, Dr. Corbett. Your work turned the world back on.’ … ‘Selective resilience and choosing your priorities seem obvious but the INTENTIONALITY is key. Thank you for that Dr. Corbett. You rock!’ … ‘It is so empowering to hear another woman talk about how we can all give ourselves grace.’”
Deloitte GPS concluded warmly, “We would like to thank Dr. Corbett for her uplifting and spectacular fireside chat with the Deloitte team and we would love to engage with her in future events.“
Kizzmekia S. Corbett-Helaire on Teamwork, Resilience & Leadership
The lead scientist in the development of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine while at the NIH, KIZZMEKIA S. CORBETT-HELAIRE discusses how she brought a team together to accomplish a timely goal under enormous worldwide pressure. Her discussions on teamwork, resilience, and leadership can be applied to any workplace. As the public face of a diverse and rising generation of scientists, she also focuses on diversity and inclusiveness, wanting everyone to feel that their voice is heard, sharing that “the most successful labs are run by people who foster an environment where everybody feels like they belong.”
As an incredibly accomplished scientist whose research changed the world, Corbett-Helaire graciously relates to audiences as if she’s just like us – quoting hip hop, chatting about her family, and her experiences growing up. Public health, after all, is about community, and Dr. Corbett-Helaire reminds us we’re all in this together. She has been featured on Good Morning America, was named to TIME magazine’s 2021 Time100 Next List, was interviewed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, discussed on the The REIDOUT and The View, delivered electrifying commencement addresses and keeps popping up in popular culture, as well as the expected places to discuss her scientific gravitas.
Invite Dr. Corbett-Helaire to your next event to electrify and inspire your audience to dream big, do the work, and make a difference.
Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett-Helaire's history with science
DR. KIZZMEKIA S. CORBETT-HELAIRE was studying vaccine development. Her research was central to the development of the Moderna mRNA vaccine and the Eli Lilly therapeutic monoclonal antibody, both of which were first to enter clinical trials in the world. As a result, her work is having a substantial impact on ending the worst respiratory-disease pandemic in more than 100 years. She is now an assistant professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard and named to the 2021 TIME 100 NEXT list, and her work extends beyond the rapid development of vaccines.
An inspiring and energetic speaker, Corbett-Helaire has taken on a public role as the face of a diverse and rising generation of talented scientists, as shown on these programs at Spelman College for the Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, National Institute of Health, American Medical Association, and in conversation with Dr. Priscilla Chan from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. She is often found weighing in on vaccine hesitancy, as seen on Good Morning America and discussed on THE REIDOUT.
Dr. Corbett-Helaire electrifies every event and her stories inspire everyone to dream big, do the work, and step up when the world calls.
Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett-Helaire is an assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Shutzer Assistant Professor at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, and Associate Member of the Phillip T. and Susan M. Ragon Institute. Dr. Corbett-Helaire’s laboratory studies host immune responses to coronaviruses and other emerging and re-emerging viruses to propel novel vaccine and antibody therapy development. In 2008, she received a BS in Biological Sciences, with a secondary major in Sociology, from the University of Maryland – Baltimore County, where she was a Meyerhoff Scholar and NIH undergraduate scholar. She then obtained her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology in 2014 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill holding multiple honors, including a director’s scholarship. Prior to Harvard, she was a research fellow and scientific lead at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Vaccine Research Center. A leading COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273, was co-designed by Dr. Corbett-Helaire’s NIH team from viral sequence and rapidly deployed to industry partner, Moderna, Inc., for Phase 1 clinical trial, which unprecedentedly began only 66 days from viral sequence release. mRNA-1273 is a now used around the world to prevent COVID-19 disease. Alongside mRNA-1273, Dr. Corbett-Helaire boasts a patent portfolio which also includes universal coronavirus and influenza vaccine concepts and novel therapeutic antibodies. In all, she has over 15 years of experience studying dengue virus, respiratory syncytial virus, influenza virus, and coronaviruses, garnering several prestigious awards and recognitions, such as being named a TIME Magazine “Hero of the Year” in 2021. Combining her research goals with her knack for mentorship, Dr. Corbett-Helaire invests much of her time in underserved communities as an advocator of STEM education and vaccine awareness.