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Hungarian-born biochemist Katalin Karikó, whose decades of work with mRNA technology was instrumental in the development of Covid-19 vaccines, visited her alma mater, the University of Szeged, in southern Hungary, on Friday. While visiting, she was made an honorary citizen of the city of Szeged.

Karikó, who filed the patent for the mRNA technology that is used in the Pfizer and Moderna Covid vaccines, was welcomed by rector László Rovó, chancellor Judit Fendler and MEP László Trócsányi, Hungary’s former justice minister, the university said in a statement.

Karikó, senior vice president of BioNTech, discussed potential cooperation with university researchers and pledged her assistance to university leaders to help the University of Szeged “advance to even higher levels in various areas of research”.

She will return to Szeged in November to be presented an honorary doctorate from the university.

Karikó was also bestowed the status of honorary citizenship by Szeged Mayor László Botka.

In his laudation, Botka called Karikó an “excellent scientist and researcher who gave hope to humanity during the pandemic”.

Public Media's Person of the Year Award Handed Over to Biochemist Karikó
Public Media's Person of the Year Award Handed Over to Biochemist Karikó

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Karikó participated in the University of Szeged’s program for fostering young talent already as a pupil in the town of Kisújszállás. She went on to complete her university studies in Szeged in 1973-1978. She worked toward her PhD at the Szeged Biological Research Centre from 1978-1982 and was awarded her doctorate in 1983. She then pursued a career as a biochemistry researcher in the United States.

In the featured photo, Katalin Karikó, winner of the Szécsényi Award, developer of the technology for BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine, vice president of BioNTech, at the Móra Ferenc Museum in Szeged on May 20, 2021. Featured photo by Tibor Rosta/MTI