The Race to a COVID-19 Vaccine: Then and Now
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett speaks about the 2020 race to develop the COVID-19 vaccine and the current science of the vaccine.
Global health is constantly threatened by emerging pathogens. Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett speaks about work left to be done in science and public health.
Hillsborough to Harvard
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.
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.