Hillsborough, North Carolina, native Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, who helped create Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, has been named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes of the Year 2021,” Time reported.
Corbett and three other scientists received the title of “miracle workers” for their continued efforts in creating mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
On the cover of the magazine, scientists Katalin Karikó, Barney S. Graham, Drew Weissman, and Corbett were featured.
On Monday, Corbett took to Instagram to bask in her accomplishment, reposting Time’s post.
Corbett is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she obtained her Ph.D. in immunology and microbiology. She holds the honor as lead scientist over coronavirus vaccine research at the prestigious National Institute of Health located in Bethesda, Maryland, WRAL reported.
According to Time, Corbett and her team’s objective was to discover how the virus’ spike protein attached itself to healthy living cells, affecting how the immune system responds.
“All of that knowledge culminated to the point where we said, ‘OK,'” Corbett said. “We know how to design a really good vaccine because we’ve been doing this for six years.”
After confirmation on the team’s vaccine development efficacy, supported by Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, Corbett got her first shot prior to Christmas in 2020.
During an interview, she said that she understood the misgivings and speculation surrounding how quickly a vaccine was created.
“I understand the concern very much so,” she said. “Because what you’re seeing is vaccine development that basically happened in 10 months.”
She explained that the vaccine’s research over the last 15 years relied on “basic science that fueled the vaccine’s trajectory.”
In November, Corbett and three other scientists received the North Carolina award which is the state’s highest honor. The scientist was honored for her life-saving advocacy in managing the virus’ existence.