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On Sept. 21, 2020, Liberty Science Center honored four “COVID-19 Challengers” – a group of scientists and public health experts who are working to defeat the pandemic – at our Virtual Genius Gala.
The four honorees were Dr. Jeanette Kowalik, Commissioner of Public Health for the city of Milwaukee; Dr. George Church, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School; Dr. Perry Halkitis, Dean of Rutgers School of Public Health; and Dr. Tal Zaks, Chief Medical Officer of Moderna Therapeutics.
First, LSC President and CEO Paul Hoffman spoke with Dr. Jeanette Kowalik about how – under her leadership – Milwaukee became the first city to declare racism a public health crisis. Her health department discovered early in the pandemic that middle-aged Black men were at greater risk of COVID-19 than Americans who had traveled internationally.
Next, Hoffman spoke with Dr. George Church – a renowned serial genomics entrepreneur and previous Genius Award honoree – about the DIY COVID-19 vaccine that he administered to himself. Church is known for pioneering the fields of personal genomics and synthetic biology. He developed the methods for the first genome sequence, and has contributed to nearly all “next generation sequencing” methods and companies.
Next, Hoffman chatted with Dr. Perry Halkitis, a research psychologist who studies the LGBTQ population, about Rutgers’ work with the NJ Department of Health recruiting contact tracers and his own research on the mental and physical health of LGBTQ individuals during COVID-19.
Finally, Hoffman spoke with Dr. Tal Zaks about the process of creating a vaccine for COVID-19. In addition to his industry work, Zaks is associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and has served as a volunteer physician at the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Medical Center.
Click here to watch the full presentation of I Stand For Science: Liberty Science Center’s Virtual Genius Gala.