Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, who worked on Moderna vaccine, cements her place in history


On this ultimate day of Women’s History Month, CBS News’ chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook caught up with a medical researcher who has already made her personal mark on history. Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett is being celebrated for main a staff on the National Institutes of Health that helped develop Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s Women’s History Month, and you’ve certainly made history regardless of gender,” Dr. LaPook mentioned to Dr. Corbett.

“I haven’t been able to bask in it, really,” she responded. “There’s still so much work to be done, so much science to be done, that it’s hard to really soak in.”

Now 36, Dr. Corbett is a researcher with a PhD in microbiology and immunology. She works as an assistant professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and because the Shutzer assistant professor on the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. She first caught the analysis bug as an adolescent, when she worked in a lab on the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

“The first scientist of color that I met was when I was 16, and I like to say that he actually is probably the reason why I am a scientist,” she advised Dr. LaPook. “That representation that I saw in him when I went to my first internship every single day, it made me realize that I could do it, that it was a possibility for someone like me who was a first generation, four year college graduate.”

As a lady of colour in the science discipline, she acknowledged that she is a job mannequin to some kids.

“Someone presented about me during Black History Month, actually in my niece’s classroom, and she said, ‘that’s my aunt’ and no one believed her, so I had to drop into her classroom,” Dr. Corbett mentioned. “Those are some of the most refreshing moments to have kids recognize, and I, they think of me as a hero, so to speak.”

“And a role model, right?” Dr. LaPook responded.

“And a role model,” she replied.

Jonathan LaPook

Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for CBS News.