Peter Hotez has wanted to be a vaccine researcher for as long as he can remember.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a once-in-a-lifetime challenge for someone of his skill set, but he never saw himself becoming the target of anti-vaxxers and the face of anti-misinformation in the way that he has the past few years.

“When I was getting my M.D. and Ph.D. and in New York, Rockefeller and Cornell in the 1980s, I always thought of becoming a vaccine scientist as something nobler. And, you know, it’s something that you do for patriotic reasons. The idea now that being vilified for it is — for people’s own political and personal gain — is truly troubling,” Hotez told The Hill in a recent interview.

The Texas-based researcher and author has studied and developed vaccine technology for 40 years. In that time, he has led teams in developing vaccines for diseases including schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, SARS and MERS.

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