Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett discusses the process of creating the COVID-19 vaccine with NCCU students

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — One of the scientists who led the development of the Moderna vaccine grew up in the Triangle and got her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Wednesday she took the time to talk with local students about the process of creating the vaccine.

Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett’s work developing the Moderna vaccine placed her on the national stage. Wednesday, students at North Carolina Central University got to hear from her during a virtual seminar and panel discussion.

“You want getting vaccinated to be an extremely informed choice, and you want your information to come from sources that have a really intricate understanding,” said Corbett, continuing, “People who can really explain the data.”

And who better to explain the data than a leading scientist in the development of the vaccine? Dr. Corbett talked about the science behind the shot and how it was created so quickly, as well as the decision to get vaccinated.

“Your choice is yours, but when it becomes endangerment to people around you, we want to think outside of ourselves,” she said. “It’s really about making sure that your choice is informed and understanding what the consequences are should you choose to not be vaccinated and what that means for the people around you.”

Students also got a chance to ask questions, about the vaccines and Dr. Corbett’s career. She grew up in Hillsborough and got her Ph.D. at UNC before working at the National Institutes of Health.

She spoke about the importance of diversity. “Diversity at the table from the beginning begets very different ideas,” she said but added that diversity isn’t enough on its own.

“You can have diversity, and you can have inclusion, but it’s not so often that you have belonging,” she said. “Belonging is equally as important.”

“It’s inspiring really,” said Jhana Boston, who is studying psychology and biomedical science at NCCU. She said the conversation helped her realize her own goals are attainable. “Especially as a female in the sciences, it can make it feel like it’s really far to get to and you really might not make it,” she said. “It just does give me a little more hope and motivation to just keep going and try to get to that point myself.”

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