Public health expert Katya Calvo Corado ’01 researches COVID-19
Her face may not be as familiar as Anthony Fauci’s, but infectious disease specialist Katya Calvo Corado ’01 has helped countless Americans better understand the pandemic.
In fluent Spanish.
Partnering with the National Institutes of Health, she has appeared more than 30 times on TV or social media, sharing her expertise on Good Morning America, Telemundo, Univision, CNN en Español, as well as Facebook Live events. She has explained the intricacies of the COVID-19 pandemic in Spanish and in English to communities of color, a population disproportionately impacted by the disease.
Corado has also been an indispensable part of the fight against COVID-19‚ both as an investigator in AstraZeneca COVID vaccine trials and in the search for disease treatments through Operation Warp Speed.
An HIV specialist with Harbor-UCLA Medical Center since 2012, Corado stepped into the SARS-CoV-2 arena as the public health crisis was boiling over last year.
“It’s not glamorous, for sure,” she said, of infectious diseases as a medical specialty. “You don’t go into it for the money.”
But Corado knew that going in.
“When thinking about medicine, something that really spoke to me was the treatment of those who are HIV-infected—an epidemic that is still quite horrible around the world,” she said.
An immigrant from Peru with stops in Brazil and Nigeria, Corado grew up with a global perspective. At age 10, her family settled in Arcadia, outside of Los Angeles.
When it came time to choose a college, Claremont McKenna College rose to the top of her list.
“Compared to the UCs and the bigger schools, the amount of attention you get at Claremont in your science classes, the assistance in studying for the MCATs and applying to medical schools is not replicated anywhere else,” Corado said. “In other places, you have to fight for certain spots. You have to fight to be acknowledged by your professors. At Claremont, that wasn’t the case.”
She made the most of the opportunities CMC provided.
Her first year was when Stark Residence Hall opened as an alcohol- and substance-free dorm.
“Those of us who were from immigrant families gravitated towards that,” she says.
At Stark Hall, Corado found her people. She was paired with roommate Christine Crockett-Sharp ’01, now director for the Center for Writing and Public Discourse at CMC. Two floors above them were Maria Anguiano ’01, now a senior vice president at Arizona State University and a member of the UC Board of Regents; and her roommate, Anouki Karu ’01, now an anesthesiologist based in Glendale.
Together, they formed a core group of women with immigrant backgrounds supporting each other’s dreams and holding each other accountable.
“They definitely helped me survive the four years there,” said Corado. “We knew we couldn’t waste our time at Claremont. We didn’t have the privilege of going to every party or to wonderful vacations. We were there with a goal—to graduate well—so we could go on with the next part of our lives.”
Corado went on to study at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, complete her residency at Harbor-UCLA and do an infectious diseases fellowship at the University of New Mexico.
To this day, Corado remains close friends with Crockett-Sharp, who often asks Corado to participate in events for the college’s BIPOC communities.