COVID-19 has impacted most of our lives in many ways. However in these unprecedented times, some women have stepped up in several ways to keep things moving.
1. Dr. Theresa Tam, BMBS (UK), FRCPC
Chief Public Health Officer, Public Health Agency of Canada
Dr. Theresa Tam became Canada’s Chief Public Health officer in June 2017. Before that, she has worked in several leadership positions, including being involved in Canada’s response to public health emergencies such as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 and the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. Before starting her 20 years long Public health experience, Dr. Tam obtained her medical degree in the United Kingdom from the University of Nottingham. Next was a pediatric residency at the University of Alberta, followed by a pediatric infectious diseases fellowship at the University of British Columbia. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and a graduate of the Canadian Field Epidemiology Program. To recognize her outstanding role in Canada’s COVID-19 response, she was named Chatelaine’s Woman of the year 2020.
2. Dr. Janice Fitzgerald
Chief Medical Officer of Health for Newfoundland and Labrador
Before beginning the Chief Medical Officer for Health in Newfoundland in 2019, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald worked at the Department of Health and Community Services in 2017. Before that, Dr. Fitzgerald obtained a Bachelor’s in Biology and a medical degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), followed by a Physician residency at Dalhousie University. Next, she returned to the province and worked as a family physician in different parts of the province for over two decades. She later completed a Master of Public Health at MUN before moving to work with the Eastern regional health Authority. Under her guidance, the province of NL maintained an overall low caseload, with a few clusters arising across the province. In recognition of her role in these challenging times, Dr. Fitzgerald was awarded the Family Physician of the year in 2020. Also, thousand of NL residents have signed a petition to name the new MUN core Science building after her.
3. The outstanding essential frontline women
All the frontline worker women (including the backend laboratory technicians who perform the COVID tests) are the real MVPs and G.O.A.Ts. Their selfless work helps keep the rest of us safe while working together towards better/COVID-19 free times.
3. Dr. Kizzmekia Shanta Corbett
American Immunologist, Research fellow and scientific lead for the Coronavirus Vaccines & Immunopathogenesis Team at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Vaccine Research Center (VRC).
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett is notable for a leading researcher behind the design of miR-1273, the COVID-19 microRNA vaccine deployed by Moderna Inc. and currently being disseminated across the world. Before she began her position at the VRC, Dr. Corbett obtained a Bachelor’s in Biological Sciences, with a secondary major in Sociology from the University of Maryland – Baltimore County. A Ph.D. followed this in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of North Carolina. Overall, Dr. Corbett has over 15 years of experience studying viruses, including dengue, influenza and coronaviruses. In recognition of her outstanding contribution to the global coronavirus response, she was recognized as one of Time’s “2021 Time100 Next” under the category Innovator, with a profile written by NIH’s Dr. Fauci. Orange County, North Carolina, named January 12th, 2021, as “Dr. Kizzy Corbett day” to honour Dr. Corbett’s efforts.
4. Dr. Özlem Türeci
German Physician, Scientist and Co-Founder Bio-N-Tech
Dr. Özlem Türeci is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of BioNTech and an immunologist and cancer researcher with translational and clinical experience. Her experience and passion are instrumental to developing mRNA-based individualized and off-the-shelf vaccine candidates and other immunotherapies currently under clinical development, which were all completed in less than one year. Before this role, Dr. Türeci served as CEO and Chief Medical Officer of Ganymed Pharmaceuticals AG, co-founded with her husband Prof. Ugur Sahin and Christoph Huber. Previously, she obtained a degree in human medicine and a doctorate from the University of Saarland, Germany. For many years, she has focussed on researching the identification and characterization of cancer biomarkers and developing cancer immunotherapies. In recognition of her role in the fight against COVID-19, Dr. Türeci and her husband were recognized as the Financial Times (FT)’s people of the year 2020.
5. Dr. Katalin Karikó
Biochemist, originator of mRNA vaccines and Senior VP at BioNTech RNA pharmaceuticals
Dr. Katalin Karikó obtained a degree in Biology and a doctorate, both in Hungary. She continued research as a postdoctoral fellow before moving to the United States to continue postdoctoral research. For several decades, she has been researching and studying the use of messenger RNA (mRNA) for gene therapy. This study and technology laid the groundwork for the currently used mRNA vaccines in the fight against COVID-19. Together with immunologist Prof. Drew Weissman, Dr. Karikó holds US patents for applying non-immunogenic, nucleoside-modified RNA. In recognition of her groundbreaking work, which has been many years in the making, she was awarded The Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research, together with Prof. Weissman in 2021.