Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

The Science of Vaccines

Archived Webinar

This Zoom webinar with Barney Graham from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) aired June 23, 2020, as the first program in the Vaccines in the Time of COVID-19 series. Watch a recording in the player above.


Early vaccines relied on exposing the immune system to weakened versions of a pathogen to elicit an immune response. Modern vaccinologists, however, make use of different strategies to stimulate immunity. In Part 1 of Vaccines in the Time of COVID-19, Barney Graham discusses the tools immunologists make use of and which approaches are most promising to combat COVID-19. He is Deputy Director of the Vaccine Research Center, and Chief of the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory and Translational Science Core at NIAID/National Institutes of Health.

Moderator: Sabrina Sholts, Curator of Biological Anthropology at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Vaccines in the Time of COVID-19

Vaccines have been heralded as the holy grail of disease prevention in the 20th and 21st centuries, reducing infant mortality in improving life expectancy worldwide. As we navigate the present COVID-19 pandemic, government officials, scientists and economists urge that the path forward hinges on development of a safe and effective vaccine — with some even suggesting that one will be available in as little as a year. 

Drawing upon the expertise of research scientists, federal agencies, and anthropologists, this four-part series demystified the production of vaccines. The series began with an insider’s perspective on research approaches, followed by presentations on safety and testing, approval, the supply chain, and issues of equity and access. This series was offered in conjunction with the exhibition Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World at the National Museum of Natural History.

Related Resources

Resource Type
Videos and Webcasts
Life Science
Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World