University of Pennsylvania Scholar to Share the Nobel Prize in Medicine

Katalin Karikó, an adjunct professor of neurosurgery and a research scientist at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is sharing this year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine. Dr. Karikó is also a professor at Szeged University in Hungary.

Professor Karikó is sharing the prize with her colleague Drew Weissman, the Roberts Family Professor in Vaccine Research and director of the Penn Institute for RNA Innovations.

The prize committee said the scholars’ research was “critical for developing effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 during the pandemic that began in early 2020. Through their groundbreaking findings, which have fundamentally changed our understanding of how mRNA interacts with our immune system, the laureates contributed to the unprecedented rate of vaccine development during one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times.”

Professors Karikó and Weissman found a way to modify mRNA and later developed a delivery technique to package the mRNA in lipid nanoparticles. This made it possible for mRNA to reach the proper part of the body and trigger an immune response to fight disease.

Dr. Karikó received a bachelor’s degree in biology and a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Szeged. She was working at the Biological Research Center of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Szeged before immigrating to the United States in 1985. She joined the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in 1989 and began collaborating with Dr. Weissman in 1997.

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