Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett is a research fellow and the scientific lead for the Coronavirus Vaccines & Immunopathogenesis Team at the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Vaccine Research Center. She received a BS in Biological Sciences, with a secondary major in Sociology, in 2008 from the University of Maryland – Baltimore County, where she was a Meyerhoff Scholar and a NIH undergraduate scholar. She then enrolled at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, from where she obtained her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology in 2014. A viral immunologist by training, Dr. Corbett uses her expertise to propel novel vaccine development for pandemic preparedness. Appointed to the VRC in 2014, her work focuses on developing novel coronavirus vaccines, including mRNA-1273, a leading candidate vaccine against the virus that causes COVID-19. In response to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, the vaccine concept incorporated in mRNA-1273 was designed by Dr. Corbett’s team from viral sequence and rapidly deployed to industry partner, Moderna, Inc., for FDA-approved Phase 1 clinical trial, which unprecedently began only 66 days from the viral sequence release. Following promising results in animal models and humans, mRNA-1273 is currently in Phase 3 clinical trial. Alongside mRNA-1273, Dr. Corbett’s team boasts a portfolio which also includes universal coronavirus vaccine concepts and novel therapeutic antibodies. Additionally, Dr. Corbett spent several years working on a universal influenza vaccine, which is slated for Phase 1 clinical trial. In all, she has fifteen years of expertise studying dengue virus, respiratory syncytial virus, influenza virus, and coronaviruses. Along with her research activities, Dr. Corbett is an active member of the NIH Fellows Committee and avid advocator of STEM education and vaccine awareness in the community. Combining her research goals with her knack for mentoring, Dr. Corbett aims to become an independent principal investigator.
Dr. Natalie Dean is an assistant professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Florida specializing in infectious disease epidemiology and study design. She is principal investigator on an NIH R01 to develop and evaluate innovative trial and observational study designs for assessing the efficacy of vaccines targeting emerging pathogens. She previously worked on the design and analysis of a Phase 3 Ebola vaccine trial in Guinea that used a novel ring vaccination strategy. Her current research focuses on the use of core protocols, adaptive designs, multi-outbreak trials, and test negative studies in outbreaks. Dr. Dean received her PhD in Biostatistics from Harvard University. She has been active in science communications during the COVID-19 pandemic, with published pieces in the Washington Post, New York Times, BMJ Opinion, Boston Review, and Medscape.
Dr. Matthew Johnson earned his bachelors in bioengineering from Cornell University and his MS, PhD (Chemical Engineering) and MBA at North Carolina State University. He led a development team at Wyeth and later Pfizer developing the commercial manufacturing processes for the recombinant proteins utilized for the vaccine Prevnar and several late stage clinical vaccines. Later at Biogen he led teams developing the late stage processes for the now approved products Alprolix, Eloctate, Darzalex, the improved manufacturing processes for MS drugs Tysabri and Avonex, and the late stage process for Aducanumab. At the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, Dr Johnson leads the GMP Program which includes cell line development, process development, analytical development and quality control, manufacturing operations and project management. There he is the PI or Co-PI for multiple federal grants and contracts for HIV, Influenza and SARS-CoV-2 phase 1 clinical programs with more than one dozen currently under development and production.