Katalin Karikó

University of Pennsylvania
Biological Sciences
Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology

Katalin Karikó is an adjunct professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania and former senior vice president of BioNTech. She is best known for her contributions to mRNA technology and the COVID-19 vaccines. Karikó and co-collaborator Drew Weissman, MD, PhD, invented the modified mRNA technology used in Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccines to prevent COVID-19 infection. Karikó joined the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in 1989 and began collaborating with Weissman in 1997. They 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. Karikó received her bachelor's degree in biology in 1978 and her doctorate in biochemistry in 1982 from the University of Szeged in her native Hungary.  

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