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Scientists at the National Institutes of Health, including UNC School of Medicine graduate Kizzy Corbett, PhD, co-developed one of the two currently FDA-authorized vaccines with pharmaceutical company Moderna.

The Hillsborough, N.C. Board of Commissioners honored Kizzmekia Corbett, PhD, a noted scientist who helped the National Institutes of Health develop the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine — with a proclamation of January 12, 2021 as “Kizzmekia ‘Kizzy’ Corbett Day” at its online meeting Monday night.

Corbett was born in Hurdle Mills, N.C., and raised in Hillsborough. She attended A.L. Stanback Middle School and graduated from Orange High School, before earning an undergraduate degree in biological sciences and sociology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and earning a doctorate degree in microbiology and immunology from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in 2014.

After mayor Jenn Weaver read the proclamation, Corbett thanked the board for the honor and urged everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.

“It is absolutely amazing to be recognized by my hometown,” Corbett said.

Addressing Corbett, Weaver said, “The town of Hillsborough has been extremely excited about your participation in developing one of our vaccines to get us past this pandemic,” Weaver said. “There are so many people in this community cheering you on and proud of you.”

Corbett’s research has been focused on the development of vaccines for novel coronaviruses, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Corbett and her team at the National Institutes of Health partnered with Moderna as part of the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 in record time and was recognized by President Donald Trump and the Coronavirus Task Force.

Corbett provided a written response regarding the proclamation before the meeting.

“I am honored to be recognized by my hometown for my work on COVID-19 vaccine development,” she said. “It goes without saying that my roots in Hillsborough play an important role in the scientist I have become. This is an honor that I will hold dear for a lifetime.”