BioHealth & Life Sciences / Maryland Assets / Innovation
Meet the women on the front lines of COVID innovation in Maryland
By Julie Miller /
March 08, 2021

For a year now, the world has raced to treat, prevent, and understand COVID-19. From vaccine development, to cutting-edge research on the implications of the virus, Maryland has been at the forefront of combating COVID-19. Often, women scientists are leading COVID innovation at Maryland’s institutions and companies. Keep reading to meet five of them. 

Kizzmekia Corbett, National Institutes of Health (NIH)

There’s a reason why Kizzmekia Corbett was among the list of the Time Magazine 2021 Time100 Next. Kizzmekia, an immunologist and the scientific lead of the Vaccine Research Center’s coronavirus team at the NIH in Bethesda, discovered that a stabilized version of a spike protein found on the surface of all coronavirus can be a key target for vaccines, treatment and diagnostics. With her discovery as their foundation, vaccines are now a reality, and being distributed across the country. Kizzmekia, an alumna of UMBC, is now new mission: Ensuring communities of color are getting vaccinated

Lauren Gardner, Johns Hopkins University

Time Magazine also recognized another Marylander, Lauren Gardner, among its “100 Most Influential People of 2020.” Fast Company also named her one of the “Most Creative People in Business in 2020.” Lauren, co-director of Johns Hopkins’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering, was the driving force behind JHU’s COVID-19 dashboard, the go-to resource for tracking the pandemic with compelling visual data. The widely used tool launched on January 22, and by early March, was accessed more than a billion times per day, Time reports. It is an insightful tool for armchair virus trackers, but more importantly, is widely used by news organizations and governments to help them better understand and report on the virus. 

Nina Patel, Novavax

As Nina Patel, senior director in the vaccine department at Novavax told Science Magazine, an 18-hour workday in the lab was not uncommon for her as the company worked to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. The highly motivated scientist leads an all-female team working on Novavax’s vaccine, which continues to advance.  
Watch the video here to meet Nina


Mina Izadjoo, Integrated Phrama Services

When the world needed better testing solutions and more PPE, Integrated Pharma Services stepped in. Led by Mina Izadjoo, President and Chief Science Officer, the company offers a variety of services related to testing and test performance evaluation. At the beginning of the pandemic, the company focused on lab services, but as the need arose for more face masks, the company added manufacturing to its portfolio, using a grant from the state, to help them manufacture face masks. 


Natalia Trayanova, Johns Hopkins University

Led by biomedical engineering professor Natalia Trayanova, a team of Johns Hopkins University biomedical engineers and heart specialists developed an algorithm that warns doctors several hours before hospitalized COVID-19 patients experience cardiac arrest or blood clots. The research behind their new algorithm began last April in Natalia’s lab, the recipient of one of the first grants awarded by the National Science Foundation’s Rapid Response Research Effort. Not surprisingly, in 2019, Natalia was one of five women worldwide to be inducted to the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame. 


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