BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: COVID-19 vaccine

You don’t know Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett!? Read This!!

Overview

Who is Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett? Nature Medicine published an article on October 19th, 2020 titled “The duty to mentor, be visible and represent” which answers this question. Dr. Corbett is a research fellow for the Coronavirus vaccines and Immunopathogenesis Team at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Vaccine Research Center (VRC). An additional article published by the American Society for Microbiology titled “Kizzmekia S. Corbett, Ph.D.” outlines her vast career achievements.

Personal Background

Kizzmekia Corbett is a Black woman who grew up in North Carolina, where she attended grade school. Dr. Corbett is a first generation college graduate who was unfamiliar with careers in science most of her young life, until she met a mentor who inspired her to dive into a scientific career. She was sixteen years old attending public school when she discovered her passion for science. As her parents encouraged her to do during her high school years, Dr. Corbett had a summer internship with American Chemical Society’s Project SEED program, where she researched at a lab of the University of North Carolina. As mentioned above, Corbett came out of this program with a mentor who changed the path of her life. PhD candidate Albert Russel, a Black man, ignited a passion and sense of possibility in Corbett to achieve her goals in STEM, regardless of her gender or race. She also learned the importance of mentorship in success and understanding in the field of science. Short after, she attended the University of Maryland where she graduated, in 2008, with Bachelor of science degree in Biological Studies, and a secondary major in Sociology. She also graduated as a Meyerhoff Scholar and an NIH undergraduate scholar. Later in 2014, she completed her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology. From this mentorship, she now feels a duty to inspire the youth of aspiring scientists. She is vigorously passionate about inclusivity in the field, and supporting those from underrepresented or underprivileged backgrounds. She is fulfilling her wish by mentoring students in the National Institutes of Health HiStep 2.0 program. She believes that exploring interest in science at a young age is extremely important.

“As I trek through my scientific career, making novel discoveries, climbing what seems to be a never-ending ladder, I am reminded of my other duties…to mentor…to be visible…to represent.” –Kizzmekia Corbet

Career Accomplishments/ Advancements in COVID-19

She is currently a research fellow for the Coronavirus Vaccines and Immunopathogenesis Team at the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Vaccine Research Center. As an immunologist, she and her team have been committed to developing coronavirus vaccines. Dr. Corbett’s team partnered with Moderna, Inc. to develop the mRNA-1273 vaccine. The FDA, Food and Drug Administration, approved the clinical trial of the mRNA-1273 vaccine. Dr. Corbett and her team have completed extensive research and have made several important findings regarding coronavirus vaccines and antibodies. The Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine has since– January–  been approved by the FDA and distributed to the public!

Where to next? She is currently in Phase 1 of a clinical trial to develop a universal influenza vaccine. Another one of her goals is to become an independent principal investigator.

It is clear that Kizzmekia S. Corbett is a brilliant, accomplished individual who only has more goals to achieve within the science community! Let me know what you think of her story in the comment, and if this story sparks and additional interest in you!

Kizzmekia Corbett Continuing to Make COVID-19 Advancements

We are all restlessly thinking about how soon life will go back to the way it was before COVID.  Thankfully, there are people like Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett who are working tirelessly to make that happen soon.

Corbett is an immunologist and research fellow who has continuously proven herself to be an extremely dominant and essential figure in the advancements towards the development of the COVID-19 vaccine. Corbett, also known as Kizzy, is a woman of color in the science field who was and is a key leader on the team that worked with Moderna to release a vaccine to the public. With quite an extensive background, Corbett was more than qualified to do so. Since the age of sixteen, she has emerged herself in various scientific opportunities, due to the fact that her parents were always pushing her to further her education with everything she spent time doing. One of the opportunities Corbett had taken part in was a select program called Project SEEDS at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There, she was able to study chemistry in professional labs and indulge herself in her interests. This is where she met her mentor, Albert Russell.

Albert Russell was a huge inspiration to Corbett. She describes that Russell “planted a seed that summer (at Chapel Hill) by taking time away from his experiments to mentor [her].” Since then, Corbett leads her work with an African-American proverb as her mentoring philosophy, “each one teach one.” She believes that it is her “duty to particularly mentor people of diverse underrepresented backgrounds.” Her goal is to expose young minds to the science field and give hope to people of color interested in pursuing a career in science. Corbett states that her responsibility as a woman of color in her field is “to mentor, to be visible, and to represent” the underrepresented. 

Corbett “is right at the forefront of the development of the vaccine” according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, a person working with Corbett and the NIH. Corbett played major roles in the development of the vaccine, and continues to do so. Her and her team worked quickly to “identify the SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequence it would need to make a vaccine for COVID-19.” Corbett worked with the group to perform tests on animals for clinical trials, and set a plan to achieve their goal. From there, she helped design the vaccine. 

Aside from actually designing the vaccine, Corbett is playing another extremely important role during this global pandemic. She takes the time to deliver speeches to communities of people of color. Corbett educates people who may not know much about vaccines or understand science that well. This is crucial due to the fact that studies show that “COVID-19 has affected Black, Native American and Latino American people at higher rates than white people, for reasons rooted in racism and historical segregation,” yet many do not trust the vaccine. People are skeptical due to how fast the vaccine was created, and thus many have said that they would not be receiving it. Corbett is using her position, knowledge, and power to educate these people and reassure them that the vaccine is 100% safe, as she stated, I could never sleep at night if I developed anything — if any product of my science came out — and it did not equally benefit the people that look like me. Period.”

Corbett is also using social media platforms to inform the public and update them on the vaccine’s progress. She encourages and informs her followers on her twitter, @KizzyPhD

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