Senior Vice President and Head of Vaccine Research & Development, Pfizer
2020 will likely be remembered as the year of COVID, making 2021 go down as the year of COVID vaccines. At the time of writing, over 63 percent of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, according to data compiled by the Mayo Clinic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And we have scientists like Kathrin Jansen to thank for that. Jansen came to Pfizer in 2009 after it acquired Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, the company she was previously with. But Jansen is no stranger to creating effective vaccines, as she also was behind the Gardasil vaccine—the first to protect against HPV. Now, with COVID vaccines for the general population off the ground, Jansen is reworking the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID vaccine for young kids to potentially include a third dose. Despite vaccination becoming a highly politicized topic in the wake of COVID, scientists like Jansen have made it possible for many to return to the office, go back to school and avoid taking up an extra bed in today’s overcrowded hospitals.