WASHINGTON, Dec. 07, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Sabin Vaccine Institute today honored two extraordinary scientists for their breakthrough vaccine research that changed the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, advanced public health, and saved countless lives. The 2022 Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal was awarded to vaccine research leader Kathrin U. Jansen, PhD, and the Rising Star to immunologist Kizzmekia Corbett, PhD.
The Gold Medal, now in its 29th year, is Sabin’s highest scientific honor, given annually to a distinguished member of the global health community who has made exceptional contributions to vaccinology or a complementary field. Past award recipients include leaders of vaccinology and vaccine advocacy such as Drs. Barney Graham, Carol Baker, Anne Gershon, Bill Foege, and Myron Levine.
Dr. Jansen was selected for her nearly three decades of commitment to advancing vaccine research and development (R&D) for a range of challenging diseases from COVID-19 to HPV and pneumonia, all of which afflict adults and children in low-and middle-income countries with already fragile health care systems.
This past August, Dr. Jansen retired as the senior vice president and head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer Inc. There, Dr. Jansen led global vaccines R&D with responsibilities ranging from discovery to post-marketing commitments. In collaboration with BioNTech, Dr. Jansen spearheaded the development of a COVID-19 vaccine that would become the first FDA and WHO-authorized COVID-19 vaccine and is the first-ever approved vaccine to use an mRNA platform.
Dr. Jansen’s leadership at Pfizer also produced newer versions of a widely used pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and vaccine candidates to prevent Streptococcus pneumoniae, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), meningococcal infections, and Group B streptococcus. Previously, she directed vaccine R&D efforts at Merck Research Laboratories and led the development of the world’s first cervical cancer vaccine. She also contributed to programs for rotavirus, mumps, measles and rubella.
“We are delighted to recognize Dr. Jansen with our Gold Medal award for her commitment to furthering vaccines and tackling tough scientific challenges in the interest of benefitting humanity and saving lives,” says Amy Finan, Sabin’s chief executive officer. “Throughout her career, she has demonstrated a unique passion for answering perplexing research questions and making bold decisions that led to impactful public health milestones.”
Dr. Jansen said she was “humbled” by the honor. “When you look at all the previous Gold Medal recipients, they are colleagues and friends that you know and have interacted and worked with for years – passionate people, all dedicated to making a healthier world.”
Sabin’s Rising Star Dr. Corbett is an assistant professor of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. A viral immunologist by training, Dr. Corbett works to advance vaccine development for pandemic preparedness and to build public confidence in vaccines, particularly among communities of color facing health disparities. While at the National Institutes of Health she was a member of the team whose research on the novel coronavirus laid the groundwork for the COVID-19 Moderna vaccine – the first candidate to be tested in Phase 1 clinical trials in the U.S.
Dr. Corbett’s research has also included a universal influenza vaccine, dengue, and respiratory syncytial virus. Currently, she leads a laboratory focused on novel coronaviruses and other infectious diseases that aims to inform vaccine development against potential future pandemics. She is also a leading advocate for STEM education, health care equity, and community-based public health outreach.
“Sabin is delighted to name Dr. Corbett this year’s Rising Star,” says Finan. “Her contributions to vaccine development are matched only by her dedication to shoring up vaccine confidence, especially among skeptics. She has done incredible work explaining the scientific rigor behind vaccines and is inspiring the next generation of researchers and public health heroes.”
“It’s a really big honor for me to win this award,” says Dr. Corbett. “Having just started my career and my own lab, winning this Rising Star Award suggests that – number one – I have a long way to go but – number two – that I am capable, which is especially good to hear from my peers, mentors and other more experienced scientists.”
About the Sabin Vaccine Institute
The Sabin Vaccine Institute is a leading advocate for expanding vaccine access and uptake globally, advancing vaccine research and development, and amplifying vaccine knowledge and innovation. Unlocking the potential of vaccines through partnership, Sabin has built a robust ecosystem of funders, innovators, implementers, practitioners, policy makers and public stakeholders to advance its vision of a future free from preventable diseases. As a non-profit with more than two decades of experience, Sabin is committed to finding solutions that last and extending the full benefits of vaccines to all people, regardless of who they are or where they live. At Sabin, we believe in the power of vaccines to change the world.
Media contact: Rajee Suri, firstname.lastname@example.org
A photo accompanying this announcement is available at: https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/66127064-3ffb-4f40-9010-7d9da33b625b