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Katalin Karikó Receives ‘Spain’s Nobel Prize,’ Princess of Asturias Award

Péter Cseresnyés 2021.06.26.

Biochemist, Katalin Karikó, has become the recipient of yet another prestigious award after receiving Spain’s 2021 Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research. The Hungarian scientist, who through decades of work significantly contributed to designing COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, was one of seven researchers to receive the award, also widely considered as the Spanish Nobel prize.

In addition to Karikó, the recipients include American immunologist, Drew Weissman, German doctors Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci, Canadian biologist Derrick Rossi, British vaccinologist, Sarah Gilbert, and American biochemist, Philip Felgner.

In their laudation, the jury said the seven were “leading figures in one of the most outstanding feats in the history of science.”

“Their work constitutes a prime example of the importance of fundamental research for the protection of public health on a global scale,” the jury added.

Katalin Karikó Awarded Reichstein Medal, Nobel Prize on the Horizon?
Katalin Karikó Awarded Reichstein Medal, Nobel Prize on the Horizon?

The reward from the Swiss Academy is a sign of Karikó's increasing odds of winning a Nobel Prize in the near future.Continue reading

According to the citation, the scientists’ long-standing work in fundamental research have led to innovative applications such as obtaining effective vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in an extraordinarily short time.

Furthermore, both the development of novel messenger RNA technology and the production of adenovirus-based vaccines open a path of hope for their use against other diseases, according to the citation.

The annual Princess of Asturias Awards are given in eight categories including art, sports, and social sciences, and come with a monetary prize of 50,000 euros for each category.

Featured photo by Tibor Rosta/MTI