My Story in Science: The journey to the development of the vaccine that changed the world
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett 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 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 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 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 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 gives trusted vaccine advice to families all across America, including on Sesame Street
Lead scientist in the development of the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines – and all-around warm and wonderful woman – KIZZMEKIA S. CORBETT joined the beloved cast of Sesame Street for a town hall, ‘The ABCs of Covid Vaccines: A CNN/Sesame Street Townhall for Families.’ Corbett provided accessible vaccine information to Big Bird, Rosita, Elmo, and the rest of the muppet cast, ensuring that audiences of all ages could understand the most up-to-date scientific news. Taking questions submitted from kids & their families at home, her warmth and command of cutting-edge information made for an engaging conversation, which Corbett delivers to audiences young and old alike.
In response to a question from a child at home Corbett answered, “Is the vaccine a superhero? Ok, you know what? I like to think about you being the superhero. The vaccine is just your training camp for you to become the superhero so that you can fight away the virus.” Her generosity amplifies her expertise, speaking to her belief in the power of teamwork as well as her position as a leader inspiring a rising generation of women of color in STEM. Corbett brings this vital blend of gravitas and grace to every event and audience.
Kizzmekia S. Corbett on Teamwork, Resilience & Leadership
The lead scientist in the development of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine while at the NIH, KIZZMEKIA S. CORBETT 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 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 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 to your next event to electrify and inspire your audience to dream big, do the work, and make a difference.
Speaker Spotlight: Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett: Her inspiring story in science
Years before most of the world had heard of the COVID-19 pandemic, DR. KIZZMEKIA S. CORBETT was studying coronavirus biology and vaccine development, and 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 COVID-19 vaccines to the outlook of this pandemic and future viral pandemics.
An inspiring and energetic speaker, Corbett 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 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, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She also holds an appointment at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute as the Shutzer Assistant Professor. She leads a new lab to study and understand the interface between hosts’ immune systems and viruses that cause respiratory disease, with the goal of informing development of novel and potentially universal vaccines.
Dr. Corbett uses her viral immunology expertise to propel novel vaccine development for pandemic preparedness, including mRNA-1273, a leading vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. The vaccine concept incorporated in mRNA-1273 was designed by Dr. Corbett's NIH team from viral sequence and rapidly deployed to industry partner, Moderna, Inc., for Phase 1 clinical trial, which unprecedently began only 66 days from viral sequence release. mRNA-1273 was shown to be 94.1% effective in Phase 3 trial and is authorized for use in multiple countries. Alongside mRNA-1273, Dr. Corbett 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, such as the Benjamin Franklin Next Gen Award and the Salzman Memorial Award in Virology. Combining her research goals with her knack for mentorship, Dr. Corbett invests much of her time in underserved communities as an advocator of STEM education and vaccine awareness.
She received a B.S. in Biological Sciences, with a secondary major in Sociology, in 2008 from the University of Maryland–Baltimore County, where she was a Meyerhoff Scholar and an NIH undergraduate scholar. She then enrolled at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she obtained her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology in 2014.