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Black History Month 2022

By: Chasity Reed | Updated on February 28, 2022

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As we wrap up Black History Month, I'd like to spotlight four Black Americans who are changing the future of medicine today. Black History Month is a celebration of the innumerable contributions Black Americans have made throughout the years and the contributions Black Americans are continuing to make in medicine that benefits us all. The following individuals have had an incredible impact across the medical landscape.

Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green

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Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green is the second African American woman in the U.S. to earn a Ph.D. in physics from The University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is also at the forefront of cancer research, specializing in the ground-breaking work of developing targeted cancer therapies using lasers and nanoparticles. Her treatments have cured cancer in specific research trials.

Dr. Green's work is inspired by the tragic loss of her aunt, Ora Lee Smith, the woman who raised her, to cancer. In her honor, she founded the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation to develop therapies that would help other cancer patients avoid the devastating effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The work she does will undoubtedly benefit cancer patients and their families worldwide.

To learn more about Dr. Hadiyah Nicole Green, visit the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation's website.

Kizzmekia S. Corbett, Ph.D

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Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, affectionately known as Kizzy, is a viral immunologist, the 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), and Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard.

Dr. Corbet and her team developed Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, which was over 94% effective in clinical trials and is authorized for use in multiple countries. Her patent portfolio also contains universal coronavirus and influenza vaccine concepts and novel therapeutic antibodies.  

Dr. Anthony Fauci described Dr. Corbet as "central to the development of the Moderna mRNA vaccine and the Eli Lilly therapeutic monoclonal antibodies, which were first to enter clinical trials in the U.S.." He also shared that "her work will have a substantial impact on ending the worst respiratory-disease pandemic in more than 100 years."

Dr. Corbet is an advocate for STEM education and vaccine awareness, particularly in underserved communities, and has received numerous recognitions over the past few years, including the Key of Life Award from the NAACP, the Scroll of Merit Award from the National Medical Association, and Dean's Medal from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Tracey D. Brown

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Tracy D. Brown served as CEO of the American Diabetes Association until 2021 when she left to become President of Retail Products and Chief Customer Officer at Walgreen's, where she continues to have a significant impact on the health of those living in the U.S. 

Brown is an outspoken advocate for people of color, regularly highlighting the barriers traditionally underserved populations face when seeking both diabetes care and healthcare in general. "Low-income Americans and people of color are more likely to live in areas with fewer hospitals," she shared in a Boston Herald byline. "They often must travel further to see a doctor — something that can make regular care more challenging for those without transportation or the time off from work they need.

"In the diabetes community," she continued, "these health disparities are laid bare. Diabetes rates are inversely related to income. Americans of color are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and other related chronic diseases as white Americans."

Under her leadership, the American Diabetes Association launched Health Equity Now, a campaign to ensure that all people living with diabetes — and the millions of minority, low-income, and medically underserved Americans at disproportionate risk — have access to life-altering medical innovations.

Sandra Lindsay

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Sandra Lindsay, a Critical Care nurse and Director of Critical Care Nursing at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, was the first person living in the U.S. to receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials.

Lindsay is passionate about persuading others to receive the lifesaving vaccine and regularly offers advice to help those on the fence decide to get vaccinated. In 2021, she served as the grand marshal of New York City's Hometown Heroes Parade for front-line workers. She was also honored by President Biden at a White House ceremony for "becoming a shining example of exemplary civic service."

After receiving the vaccine, Lindsay shared, "I hope my vaccination might set us on a path to transparency, trust, and, ultimately, equal access to quality medical care across all communities." She's also pursuing her doctorate in health sciences.

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