Roanoke native makes strides in COVID-19 vaccine research

Dr. Kevin Saunders found his love for science while he was a student in Roanoke City Schools

A Roanoke native is leading the way on research for different COVID-19 vaccines.

Before he became the Director at Duke’s Human Vaccine Institute, Dr. Kevin Saunders spent his early years developing his love for science at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, Virginia.

“I just enjoyed growing up there, all the way around, was a great place to live,” said Saunders.

His mother’s work in the medical field inspired him at an early age to pursue a career in science.

Over the past year, his research has played a major role in studying and developing vaccines.

“We’ve been working for the last six or seven months on our second-generation vaccine for coronavirus and what we’re trying to do is basically find a vaccine that can cover the variants that are circulating,” Saunders said.

While most of his work is in the lab, Saunders has also been pushing to get younger and more diverse groups of students involved in science.

“I think it’s key for them to see that scientists come in all different skin complexions, they come in different genders and different age groups, and to understand that, You know this is a possible career for them,” Saunders said.

Saunders attributes his successes to his family and teachers who inspired him to pursue his passions at an early age.

“While we’re really focused on exposing people to science and exposing people of all backgrounds to know what it’s like to be a researcher, it’s also part of our job to help the public understand the science that’s going on right now,” Saunders said.

Saunders is also working to help educate everyone about how vaccines are made and how they work.


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