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mRNA Pioneer Karikó Receives Solvay Award for ‘Reinventing Scientific Progress’

Júlia Tar 2022.01.19.

The 2022 Science for the Future Solvay Award has been awarded to Katalin Karikó for her work with messenger RNA (mRNA), which has enabled the rapid development of vaccines.

The website of the Solvay Award writes that this year’s prize marks the 100-year anniversary of the first Solvay Conference on Chemistry. The prize was awarded to Karikó for her pioneering research in mRNA technology used in vaccines, which is radically shaping the future of medicine. Her work on the biochemical modification of synthetically produced messenger RNA (mRNA) has enabled the rapid development of vaccines.

Katalin Karikó Elected to French Academy of Sciences, Awarded Lipid Science Prize
Katalin Karikó Elected to French Academy of Sciences, Awarded Lipid Science Prize

Karikó also received the Grande Medaille, the most prestigious award of the French Academy of Sciences, last autumn.Continue reading

They also write that Karikó’s research was most notably used by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna to build COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, which have saved many lives. It could also help fight other diseases like cancer, infection from influenza, malaria, or HIV in the future. Karikó has dedicated her 40-year career to using RNA as a therapeutic, with chemistry as a key element to modify the mRNA to avoid the risk of rejection by the immune system.

I am thrilled and honored by this recognition. I look back on my long journey with gratitude to all those who helped me to get there: my supportive family, my inspirational teachers, mentors, and colleagues,”

Katalin Karikó said.

Together with the prize, the scientist will also receive €300k.

Fact

mRNA is the genetic script that carries DNA instructions to each cell’s protein-making machinery, directing them to make their own medicine.

Created in 2013, the Solvay Award recognizes a scientist for major discoveries that highlight the essential role of science and chemistry in helping solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

“Professor Karikó is truly reinventing scientific progress,” said Ilham Kadri, CEO of Solvay.

As the second woman to win the award, she is such an inspiration and I am so proud to grant her this prize on behalf of Solvay, whose founder actively promoted science for the good of humanity and future generations.

Through her incredible determination, she has achieved a major advancement for humankind that will revolutionize the treatment of many diseases. Congratulations, Professor Karikó!”

The award ceremony will be held at the Palais des Académies in Brussels on March 29 in the presence of His Majesty King Philippe of Belgium, including a live stream option.

Featured image via Zsolt Czeglédi/MTI


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