The 2021 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize Lectures and Award Presentation

“Developing mRNA for Therapy”

Katalin Karikó, PhD
Katalin Karikó, PhD
presented by

Katalin Karikó, PhD

Senior Vice President, BioNTech SE

Adjunct Associate Professor

Perelman School of Medicine

University of Pennsylvania

 

Katalin Karikó's Biography

Dr. Karikó has been senior vice president of BioNTech SE since 2013. She also is adjunct associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, where she worked for 24 years. She received her PhD in biochemistry from the University of Szeged in Hungary in 1982. Her research for decades has focused on RNA-mediated mechanisms with the ultimate goal of developing in vitro-transcribed mRNA for protein therapy. Her groundbreaking investigation of RNA-mediated immune activation and her co-discovery that nucleoside modifications suppress immunogenicity of RNA unlocked the opportunity for the therapeutic use of mRNA. She and Drew Weissman co-invented and patented the use of nucleoside-modified mRNA, a key discovery that made possible the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines developed by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna/NIAID. 


“Nucleoside-Modified mRNA-LNP Therapeutics”

Drew Weissman, MD, PhD
Drew Weissman, MD, PhD
presented by

Drew Weissman, MD, PhD

Professor of Medicine

Perelman School of Medicine

University of Pennsylvania

 

 

Drew Weissman's Biography

Dr. Weissman is professor of medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. He received his graduate degrees from Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Weissman, in collaboration with Dr. Katalin Karikó, discovered the ability of modified nucleosides in RNA to suppress activation of innate immune sensors and increase the translation of mRNA containing certain modified nucleosides. The nucleoside-modified mRNA-lipid nanoparticle vaccine platform Dr. Weissman’s lab created is used in the first two approved COVID-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. They continue to develop other vaccines that induce potent antibody and T cell responses with mRNA-based vaccines. Additionally, Dr. Weissman’s lab develops methods to replace genetically deficient proteins, edit the genome, and specifically target cells and organs with mRNA-LNPs, including lung, heart, brain, CD4+ cells, all T cells, and bone marrow stem cells.


Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize Award Presentation

Appreciation by David D. Ho, MD

Responses from Drs. Karikó and Weissman

The Horwitz Prize Awards Presentation will take place following Dr. Weissman's lecture


Related information

The Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize Website

Press Release: The 2021 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize Winners

Past Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize Winners