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NEWS > Alumnae News > Melanie Ivarsson Collects OBE

Melanie Ivarsson Collects OBE

Dr Melanie Ivarsson, Class of 1990, went to Windsor Castle last month to proudly receive her OBE from King Charles, at one of his first investiture ceremonies since becoming King.

Melanie, who is Chief Development Officer at Moderna, was named in the New Year Honours List 2022 for services to public health during COVID-19 after her team pioneered one of the very first COVID vaccines.

She remembered the emotional day when the results from Moderna’s vaccine trials were first announced, and team members burst into tears when they realised they’d developed something that could help end the global pandemic.

She said: “We had to find a way to produce 10 years’ worth of vaccine development in 10 months… It was an incredible experience. We were working incredibly long hours, seven days a week. There were only 600 people in the entire company but we pulled together to make the impossible happen.

“We’ve gone on to produce not just that first Covid-19 vaccine but also variant vaccines, and have manufactured over a billion doses, which is just incredible for such a small company. This just goes to show what we can do as a team when we need to do it.”

Speaking about her company’s future work on vaccines, Dr Ivarsson said: “We are currently working on ways to create a refrigerator-stable version of our vaccine so that it can be deployed in developing countries, where coronavirus jabs are still not yet widely available.

“We also have a global health programme where we have committed to tackle the 15 biggest health threats by 2025. That involves developing vaccines against diseases such as malaria and Ebola.”

Dr Ivarsson said she hopes to set an example for future female scientists and researchers across the world. She added: “I hope that women and girls consider going into science, technology, engineering or maths or into research when they’re thinking about their future careers.”

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