Kizzmekia Corbett among 2021 Bostonians of the Year

Kizzmekia Corbett, assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was named one of the 2021 Bostonians of the Year by the Boston Globe for her pioneering research aimed at developing a COVID-19 vaccine and for creating an open dialogue about vaccines with a sometimes distrustful public.

A December 15, 2021 article in the Globe described Corbett’s passion for science and her work at the National Institutes of Health researching coronavirus spike proteins and mRNA vaccine technology, which began long before the COVID-19 pandemic emerged and which proved critical to developing vaccines in record time.

“Her science is top flight,” said Sarah Fortune, John LaPorte Given Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and chair of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. “There are very few of us who ever, in our whole careers, will have as large an impact through our science as she has already had through hers.” Fortune added, “She is committed not just to superb science, but to making sure that the fruits of that science reach the people who need it the most.”

The article listed various efforts Corbett has made to connect with the public on the importance and safety of vaccines. For example, she took over Michelle Obama’s Instagram account in May, spoke to the NFL’s Washington Football Team in June, appeared on television alongside “Sesame Street” characters in November, and responds individually to Twitter messages that question vaccine safety.

“I treated the vaccine like it was [my community’s] to take,” she told the Globe. “And I treated the knowledge, my knowledge that I had about the vaccine, like it was theirs to know.”

Read the Boston Globe article: Immunologist Kizzmekia Corbett’s work represents the best of what science offered us in 2021

Learn more

TIME names Kizzmekia Corbett one of four heroes of the year (Harvard Chan School news)

Vaccine researcher Kizzmekia Corbett wins top honor for federal service (Harvard Chan School news)

Kizzmekia Corbett is just getting started (Harvard Public Health magazine)