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mRNA Pioneer Karikó’s Three Most Important Pieces of Advice to Uni Students

Júlia Tar 2021.09.09.

The University of Szeged opened its 100th academic year this September. Katalin Karikó received an honorary doctorate and gave a speech in which she mentioned the three most important experiences of her life.

Karikó’s first words at the opening ceremony were: “I am nervous,” even though she received big applause beforehand. Then she followed by saying that a ceremonial speech is good when it’s short.

She talked about how her career was a lot more bumpy and sinuous than she expected it to be. Her ranking was reduced more than once, and she was fired several times, but she did her best to learn from these experiences.


Biochemist Katalin Karikó is responsible for creating the groundbreaking technology that became the basis of all available mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines. Through her achievement, she provided a major contribution in saving the lives of millions and slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

She formulated her life experiences into three parts:

  1. The importance of personal connections
  2. The faith in oneself
  3. Focus on what we can change
Katalin Karikó Receives 'Spain's Nobel Prize,' Princess of Asturias Award
Katalin Karikó Receives 'Spain's Nobel Prize,' Princess of Asturias Award

The Hungarian researcher received the prestigous award for being "one of the leading figures in one of the most outstanding feats in the history of science."Continue reading

She also shared a personal story. When she was at the University of Pennsylvania, she was wondering what she could come up with that those other professional who had worked there for 30 years had not thought of? She defeated her weak-spiritedness by asking herself why couldn’t she invent something?

After her speech, Karikó received another big applause and the honorary doctorate from László Rovó, rector of the University of Szeged.

Featured image via Csilla Cseke/MTI