Known for her award-winning work in the search for an HIV vaccine, Dr. Bette Korber, a computational biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), has in recent weeks shifted her focus and is leading a team studying the mutations of the novel coronavirus. The team, assisted by scientists at Duke University and the University of Sheffield in England, has recently identified 14 mutations of the virus.
Korber has a long line of attachments to the Beach. Not only did she graduate with her B.S. in Chemistry in 1981, but her father, now deceased, was a sociology professor at Long Beach State; her mother, a graduate in nursing; and her older sister earned her B.A. in journalism. After leaving CSULB, Korber continued her education, going on to earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Cal Tech in 1988. She joined LANL in 1990, where her focus has been analyzing the evolutionary history of the AIDS virus and working on a vaccine for HIV.
Throughout this CSULB alumna's career, she has participated in many professional activities, publications, and presentations. In 1997, she earned the title of Elizabeth Glaser Scientist, an award presented by Hilary Clinton, and was also awarded the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award in 2004, which is the U.S. Department of Energy’s highest recognition for scientific achievement.
A Los Angeles Times article about the study featured Korber and reported her personal views on the study from her Facebook posting: "The story is worrying, as we see a mutated form of the virus very rapidly emerging, and over the month of March becoming the dominant pandemic form.... [Although] this is hard news," she urges the public to "please don't only be disheartened by it.... [B]e encouraged by knowing the global scientific community is on this, and we are cooperating with each other in ways I have never seen…in my 30 years as a scientist."
Read more about the study report regarding the now-dominate mutations of the coronavirus and the collaborative efforts amongst the scientific community.