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Prominent African Americans Who Are Contributing to Biotech Innovation

Black History Month is here, and it’s time to celebrate Black scientists, engineers and microbiologists who have risen to the pinnacle of prominence in science and biotechnology.

Some of the great influential African American scientists who paved the way for modern scientists include George Washington Carver, Percy Julian, Dorothy Johnson Vaughan, Harold Amos, Gladys West and Valerie Thomas, among others.

Today, the most prominent African Americans in biotech include:

Kizzmekia Corbett

Kizzmekia Corbett is an assistant professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is very active in the department of infectious diseases and immunology. She holds a Ph.D. in immunology and microbiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She worked alongside Moderna at the Vaccine Research Center to develop the mRNA-1273 vaccine, one of the two vaccines used to combat coronavirus.

Karen Akinsanya

Karen Akinsanya makes significant contributions to the field of biomedical science. She has been instrumental in developing several new drugs and therapies that have helped improve patients’ lives with various conditions. Currently, she is a leading scientist at Schrodinger’s in New York. She holds a Ph.D. in endocrine biology.

Terry-Ann Burrell

Terry-Ann Burrell is the CFO at Beam Therapeutics. This company has impressed many investors with its precision in base editing technique, a milestone in the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) revolution. Her work is mentioned in many biotech schools.

Abraham Ceesay

Abraham Ceesay currently heads Cerevel Therapeutics, a top biotech company focusing on neurological disorders. Abraham has helped to develop many groundbreaking therapies for neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. He has gained international recognition for improving the lives of thousands of patients worldwide.

Kelly Chibale

Kelly Chibale is a professor of organic chemistry at the University of Cape Town. He is also the founder of H3D, Africa’s first drug discovery facility. H3D partnered with Merck KGaA, a Germany-based company, to research malaria.

In 2018, Chibale was featured in Fortune among the 50 most outstanding leaders worldwide. His works have significantly improved education in biotechnology.

Howard E. Davis

Howard E. Davis excels both in business and science. He holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Yale University and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from MIT. Howard’s first task while working at Novartis was to research age-related degeneration of muscles and multiple sclerosis. He later rose to become a vice president at Biogen.

African Americans are doing great things in science, and Sallie B. Howard School of Arts & Science helps students aspire to do the same. Here, we focus on culture, arts and academics to nurture students’ gifts, talents and potential. Contact us to find out more about our public charter school.

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