In this month’s newsletter, we highlight scientists of color who have played key roles in the creation of vaccines. These vaccines include polio, leprosy, and even the COVID-19 vaccine.
As a person of color, you may be struggling with whether or not to receive your COVID-19 vaccine. It might be because you’ve heard a lot of information that isn’t true, or maybe you’ve had some bad experiences with medical care. We hope this newsletter will encourage you by pointing out just a few of the scientists working to protect their communities right now and throughout history.
Doctors Russel W Brown and James Henderson
Doctors Russel W. Brown and James Henderson were two African American scientists from the Tuskegee Institute who helped contribute to the testing of the Polio vaccine. In the 1950s the fear that one's own children would contract polio was a terrifying thought to many Americans. Researcher Jonas Salk created a polio vaccine in early 1953, but he wanted to be fully certain it was safe before vaccinating children. That’s why he turned to Doctors Brown and Henderson, who made sure the vaccine was safe by producing large amounts of a specific cell needed to test it. You can learn more about the work of Doctors Brown and Henderson in this article from Scientific American.
Doctor Jacinto Convit
Doctor Jacinto Convit, was a Venezuelan researcher whose work was essential to the treatment and understanding of leprosy and other tropical diseases. At the time Dr. Convit started his research, Venezuela was a very poor country experiencing lots of diseases. Leprosy patients were forced into isolation in group settings with other Leprosy patients. Experiencing this firsthand encouraged Dr. Convit to end the stigma around Leprosy. Doctor Convit helped to create new treatments for leprosy and changed the way people thought about the condition. You can learn more about his work in this article from NCBI.
Doctor Kizzmekia Corbett
Finally, we spotlight Doctor Kizzmekia Corbett, an African American scientist who played an important role in creating the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Corbett, an immunologist at the National Institutes of Health, is also dedicating her time to fighting against vaccine misinformation on Twitter and talking about vaccine science with communities of color. To learn more about Dr. Corbett’s work, you can read this article from nature
Talk with your doctor or another medical provider you trust about COVID-19 and flu vaccines and learn what is right for you.