US Vice President Kamala Harris has said that her first job was to clean pipettes in her mother’s laboratory, as she visited the National Health Institute headquarters for the second dose of her Covid-19 vaccine.
Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris from Chennai, was a breast cancer researcher who died of cancer in 2009. Her father Donald Harris is a Jamaican American professor of economics.
“Growing up, our mother would go… we would always know that mommy was going to this place called Bethesda. Mommy’s going to Bethesda, now we’re living in California… My mother would go to Bethesda and of course, what she was doing was coming here to NIH. She was in the biochemical endocrinology section,” Harris said on Tuesday during her visit to the National Health Institute (NIH) headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland.
Recalling her visit to her mother’s laboratory, the US Vice President said: “She was a peer reviewer. My mother had two goals in her life: to raise her two daughters and end breast cancer. In fact, a little known fact is that my first job was cleaning pipettes in my mother’s lab. She would take us there with her after school and on weekends".
“And I grew up around science in a way that was taught to me by someone who was so profoundly passionate about a gift which is the gift that scientists give to us in that their whole reason for being is to see why can be unburdened by what has been,” the 56-year-old first woman vice president said.
Their whole reason for being is to pursue what is possible for the sake of improving human life and condition, Harris said.
“It is such a noble pursuit. And the importance of NIH is that this is about an essential function of government. Which is to provide for public health. The work that happens here has one goal: to improve public health. And the importance of the pursuit of the work that happens at NIH is it's not about profit. It's about the people,” she said.
The NIH is the top scientific research institute of the United States. Harris appeared to be well aware of the working of scientists at the lab.
“I know what you do. I know that you work around the clock with those experiments that have to be checked on every few hours and they don't care about what time it is on the clock. I know the work you do and the collaboration that is required. I know the work that you do reviewing grants. Because of course some of the most significant scientific research has been publicly funded. That's what my mother did, she reviewed grants.
“And so I have the luxury of being here at this moment on just the fifth day of our administration coming full circle. Because you see, NIH was such a huge part of my youth as this place that my mother went all the time and was very excited to work,” she added.
Harris, also America’s first Black and South Asian vice president, took over the office from Mike Pence on January 20.
The first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine was administered to her on December 29.
The US is the worst-affected country from the Covid-19 which has killed more than 420,000 people in the last one year. The country also has over 25,293,000 confirmed cases.