Drew Weissman

University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Biological Sciences
Medical Sciences

Drew Weissman is a physician and researcher at Penn Medicine, best known for his contributions to RNA biology and the COVID-19 vaccines. He and co-collaborator Katalin Karikó, PhD, invented the nucleoside-modified mRNA technology being used in Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna's vaccines to prevent COVID-19.

More than 15 years ago at Penn Medicine, Weissman and Karikó found a way to modify mRNA. His lab later developed a delivery technique to package the mRNA in fat droplets called lipid nanoparticles leading to a new vaccine platform. This ensured that it could reach the proper part of the body and trigger the immune system to fight disease.

These laboratory breakthroughs made mRNA safe, effective, and practical for use as a vaccine against COVID. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine received FDA approval in August 2021, and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized by the FDA for emergency use.

Weissman and his team are currently at work on a pan-coronavirus vaccine to stop the next coronavirus epidemic, a universal flu vaccine, a vaccine to prevent herpes, and numerous mRNA therapeutics and gene therapies. 

Previously, Weissman was a fellow at the National Institutes of Health studying HIV in the lab of Dr. Anthony Fauci. Weissman received his bachelor's degree and master's degree from Brandeis University. He earned his MD and PhD from Boston University and completed his residency at Beth Israel Hospital.

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