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Michigan State University

Fighting on All Fronts

Dr. Ian Moore

Fighting on All Fronts

Early in the pandemic, Dr. Ian Moore recalls watching the news as COVID-19 case counts in the U.S. began to climb—first 14, then 20, then 600. 

“Then in March, I got tapped to support the Moderna vaccine work because our lab was set up for this and my background as a flu researcher,” Moore says. “It was kind of an easy plug-and-play for me. But I knew it was going to be a big challenge.”

Moore is a veterinary pathologist. On a typical day, he and his lab help investigators conduct research studies and generate and analyze data. Moore works on infectious diseases like zika, malaria and influenza, as well as allergic diseases like eczema. But all that came to a halt when COVID-19 arrived.


“That helped with the [vaccine] turnaround time. We put everything else on pause and just focused on the COVID-19 vaccine,” says Moore.


When the Moderna vaccine received emergency use approval from the Food and  Drug Administration, Moore felt extremely grateful, which motivated him to reconnect with those who helped him get to that point.

“I reached out to three of my teachers to tell them, ‘Thank you,’ because I’d had some not-so-supportive teachers in school who tried to actually discourage me from taking this path, and had I listened to them, this could be a very different situation,” says Moore.

Moore shared details about his work on the Moderna vaccine with his teachers and small hometown in Alabama. He got a lot of questions.

“My ninth-grade teacher, we stayed connected, and she was asking me if she should get the vaccine or not, and I said, ‘Absolutely.’ Now, she’s had her second dose,” says Moore.

She also became a community liaison and encouraged others to get vaccinated. She spoke to their local newspaper, which ran a story about Moore’s involvement in the vaccine. “That’s what started me on this mass information drive because now the entire community knew what I was doing. They trusted my opinion and the information I was giving them, and that was invaluable.”

Moore felt an obligation to share vaccine information. “There were people calling me left and right about having COVID-19, worried they would get COVID-19, or about people I knew who had passed away from COVID-19. I felt an immediate need to do something about it, not just a vaccine, but to get accurate information to people.”

“Now, [some] people just know that it’s new and someone wants to inject it in their arm and that’s all they know, and people say it’s safe. But I want to show them that it’s safe, and I can do that because I performed the preclinical safety and efficacy studies.”

Moore reflects on everything that has happened during his COVID-19 vaccine education efforts, all of which resulted from one grateful phone call.

“It just felt full circle to me. [My teacher’s] kindness helped me, having someone who believed in what I was doing as a child,” says Moore, “and then for her to be a recipient of a vaccine, 25 years later, that I helped create. I think it’s pretty cool.”

Contributing Writer(s): Emily Lenhard

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