Black History Month: Medical Pioneer Dr. Kizzemekia (Kizzy) Corbett

As a viral immunologist at the National Institutes for Health, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett has played a key role in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett

In a relatively short career, Dr. Corbett has distinguished herself as an immunologist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. She displayed her academic ability at a young age while growing up in a small town in North Carolina. This prompted her to be selected for advanced placement classes. By the time she reached high school she decided upon a career in science and began additional study and internships at several prestigious labs at North Carolina University at Chapel Hill.

She earned a full scholarship to the University of Maryland Baltimore County and spent a summer internship at NIH. After graduation, she returned to Chapel Hill for her doctorate in microbiology and immunology.  In 2014, she was selected for a post-graduate fellowship at NIH where she engaged in viral research.

Dr. Corbett began work on a COVID-19 vaccine at the outset of the pandemic in the United States. She and the team at NIH partnered with Moderna in their animal studies and later during human trials.

Because of the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on communities of color, Dr. Corbett has been directly involved in outreach from NIH to these communities. When speaking of Dr. Kizzy Corbet, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “So, the first thing . . . to say to my African American brothers and sisters is that the vaccine that you’re going to be taking was developed by an African American woman. And that is just a fact.”

Contributed by Adrian Clark, Diversity and Inclusion Officer

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