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Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett Awarded the 2021 Green Sands Prize for Her Contributions to Science and Development of Moderna Vaccine

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As an organization founded on the principles of accelerating human progress, Green Sands Equity strives to engage and encourage individuals or organizations that show potential for excellence and profound impact on the world. Often, the likelihood of realizing excellence and impact is tied to opportunity. With global scale, Green Sands leadership believes that they bear a social responsibility to aid such extraordinary individuals or organizations to realize their greatest potential. Accordingly, the Green Sands Prize was established to provide recipients with partnership, funding, and connectivity to our network. Green Sands Prize is not just a celebration of excellence but the anticipation of it. Green Sands believes that the prize recipients best work and impact lie ahead.

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"I would like for every little girl to look at me and say, 'I can be a scientist too.' I want my legacy to be in inspiration. And, while inspiring, I would like to clear away barriers that keep many young girls from achieving at the highest of levels, making the world aware that women are worthy." --Kizzmekia Corbett (Photo: Business Wire)

Biennially, Green Sands, under the direction of Chairwoman Reema Khan, sets the target focus area for the prize, by which a nomination committee consisting of subject matter experts and key opinion leaders is assembled. The first Green Sands Prize was awarded in 2019 to a climate and civil rights leader and entrepreneur, Tenzin Seldon. This year, the target focus area was appropriately the COVID-19 pandemic. The nomination committee, consisting of top biotech CEOs, scientists and epidemiologists, selected Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett as the 2021 recipient.

"My hope for the Green Sands Prize is to elevate and advance meaningful work of extraordinary individuals, and to eventually build a community of Green Sands Prize Laureates who have one quality in common despite their disparate fields of work their remarkable determination and resolve to better our world. The prize has no subject area focus, but we have a clear focus on the values of being constructive and generous to our world. Indeed, we live in a time of interdisciplinary breakthroughs and perspectives, only time will tell what seemingly immovable boundaries these Laureates will break,” remarked Reema Khan.

"I would like for every little girl to look at me and say ‘I can be a scientist too.’ I want my legacy to be an inspiration. And, while inspiring, I would like to clear away barriers that keep many young girls from achieving at the highest of levels. Making the world aware that women are worthy.” – Kizzmekia Corbett

In 2020 when COVID-19 was spreading globally, Dr. Corbett was a research fellow and the scientific lead for the Coronavirus Vaccines & Immunopathogenesis Team at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The vaccine concept incorporated in the mRNA-1273 was designed by Dr. Corbett’s NIH team. In an unprecedented 66 days, her team released the viral sequence which was rapidly deployed to Moderna, Inc., for the Phase 1 clinical trial. The mRNA-1273 was later shown to be 94.1% effective in a Phase 3 trial and was authorized for use in multiple countries. Alongside the mRNA-1273, Dr. Corbett boasts a patent portfolio which includes universal coronavirus and influenza vaccine concepts and novel therapeutic antibodies.

Today, Dr. Corbett is an Assistant Professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Shutzer Assistant Professor at Harvard’s Radcliff Institute of Advanced Study, and Associate Member of the Phillip T. and Susan M. Ragon Institute. At Harvard, Dr. Corbett is studying viral immunology to inform vaccine development. “In going back to the fundamentals, I’ll be broadening my horizons beyond just coronaviruses to explore other viral families. I want to do what we did with coronaviruses—create a solid body of knowledge for other viruses so that the world has information at hand to quickly and safely develop vaccines. That concept is called ‘pandemic preparedness,’ and that’s really what my lab here will be focusing on.” stated Dr. Corbett.

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Samantha Webber
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