Symposium Features Moderna COVID-19 Scientist

POTTSTOWN PA – Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, one of the lead scientists who helped to develop the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, has been named as this year’s speaker for the annual Montgomery County Community College Presidential Symposium on Diversity. It’s scheduled for online delivery Oct. 20 (2021; Wednesday) beginning at 12:30 p.m. via Zoom, is free to attend, and open to the public.

Register to attend using the MCCC website, here. This event has been added to The Posts’ calendar.

“We are delighted to have Dr. Corbett to not only talk about coronavirus research and the development of the Moderna vaccine, but also about her advocacy for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, and vaccine awareness,” said Rose Makofske, MCCC director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Title IX Coordinator. She organizes the annual event.

The symposium is a capstone event that advances and facilitates ongoing public dialogue on diversity and inclusiveness among students, faculty, staff and the community.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, described Corbett as “widely recognized in the immunology community as a rising star,” when he nominated her for TIME magazine’s 2021 TIME 100 Next list. “As a result, her work will have a substantial impact on ending the worst respiratory-disease pandemic in more than 100 years,” he also said.

Corbett’s interest in science started at a young age. When growing up in Hillsborough NC, she was fortunate to have teachers who recognized her curiosity for learning. Through their encouragement, along with that of her mother, Corbett participated in a research program that fueled her interest in science. It led her to the University of Maryland to study biological sciences, and to the University of North Carolina for her doctor of philosophy in microbiology and immunology.

As the scientific lead for the Coronavirus Vaccines and Immunopathogenesis Team at the NIH, Corbett spent more than six years with the team, working on vaccines for coronaviruses and building on decades of work to understand how the viruses function.

The COVID-19 vaccine is the third outbreak, following sudden acute respiratory syndrome in 2002, and the Middle East respiratory syndrome in 2012. Using this knowledge, the team was ready to develop a vaccine when they received the sequence for COVID-19.

Currently, Corbett is an assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She devotes much of her spare time to advocating for vaccines and STEM education often in communities of color.

The symposium is part of MCCC’s ongoing commitment and work focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion. This year, MCCC is one of 10 colleges nationwide selected to participate in an inaugural Racial Equity Leadership Academy, a joint initiative of the University of Southern California and Achieving the Dream foundation.

Corbett photo provided by Montgomery County Community College
MCCC Pottstown South Hall photo by The Posts