April 5, 2021

Kizzmekia Corbett ’08, M16, organic sciences and sociology, is the lead scientist of the analysis crew that developed the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). She returned to campus April 2 for an interview with NCS. From a lab within the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building, Corbett spoke concerning the affect of UMBC and the Meyerhoff Scholars Program on her success.

“Had I not been exposed to Dr. Hrabowski and the Meyerhoff Program…I’m not even so sure that I would be a scientist. It’s really about exposure and resources given to people,” Corbett instructed NCS. In specific, encounters at UMBC that led her to double main in organic sciences and sociology uniquely ready her for this second, when the nation is witnessing each an pressing want for cutting-edge science and the results of widespread well being disparities.

The juxtaposition of the reckoning round racial discrimination and the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on individuals of shade “really came together and put a burden on me in so many ways, and it made me more motivated around what I needed to do as far as getting this vaccine out,” Corbett instructed NCS. “I think as I have looked back on the pandemic, and my work and my team’s work in the pandemic, I feel like it was my purpose, almost.”

It’s about listening

Corbett additionally understands the significance of approaching vaccine hesitancy with empathy. “I think there is really nothing that you say. It’s really about listening,” she stated within the interview. “There is a subset of people who just haven’t been listened to around their health issues and around technology, really. And I just felt like it was time for me to sit down and empathize with an entire group of people who had been ignored.”

Corbett is longing for a brand new era of numerous scientists. “I think it’s been exciting to be able to be an inspiration,” she says. “I’m happy to be visible if it means that more people understand the science behind this vaccine and for vaccines to come.”

A dialog between Corbett and President Freeman Hrabowski was additionally featured on the 2nd Annual African Americans in Health Care Awards, offered by Kaiser Permanente and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture. Corbett was additionally featured within the Lifetime Presents Women Making History particular and as one in all TIME Magazine’s 100 Next.


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