NIH vaccine designer is leading coronavirus research at Harvard


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Kizzmekia Corbett observes the NIH Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory in Bethesda, Maryland.

The U.S. government scientist who helped design one of the first vaccines against COVID-19 and then addressed the skepticism of prey in communities of color moved to Harvard in June.

Kizzmekia Corbett of the National Institutes of Health will bring her research on next-generation coronavirus vaccines to Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, the school announced Tuesday.

Corbett told The Associated Press that the movement also allows him to be even more involved in the dissemination and fairness of vaccines.

“I basically spent the last year, I guess, fighting misinformation” about COVID-19 vaccines, he said. “We think we can only say,‘ Science is good, ’and people will say,‘ Okay, yes, I’ll get the vaccine, ’when their questions need more attention.

Corbett, 35, helped lead the NIH development of the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Moderna. The viral immunologist spent six years leading an NIH research team that studied potential vaccines against other coronaviruses such as MERS, which gave them an edge when the new coronavirus appeared.

When vaccination initiatives began, Corbett spoke practically with churches and forums hosted by colleges, doctors and even by the great basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to counter vaccine reluctance.

In his new role, Corbett will lead a lab exploring new vaccines to protect against other members of the coronavirus family and other new viruses that could threaten human health.

“We will continue to see these emerging viruses and we will need to have strategies in place to deal with them,” said Sarah Fortune, president of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard Chan School. “Unfortunately, with coronaviruses and the need to understand how to vaccinate against coronaviruses, we are not out of the woods.”

The Associated Press Health and Science Department is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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