Katalin Karikó, PhD
Senior Vice President, BioNTech SE, Mainz, Germany
Professor, University of Szeged, Hungary
Adjunct Professor, The Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Katalin Karikó is senior vice president at BioNTech SE, Mainz, Germany from 2013. She is also adjunct professor at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, where she worked for 24 years. She is professor at University of Szeged, Hungary where she received her PhD in biochemistry in 1982. For four decades, her research has been focusing on RNA-mediated mechanisms with the ultimate goal of developing in vitro-transcribed mRNA for protein therapy. She investigated RNA-mediated immune activation and co-discovered that nucleoside modifications suppress immunogenicity of RNA. This groundbreaking work unlocked the opportunity for the therapeutic use of mRNA. She co-founded and served as CEO of RNARx, a company dedicated to develop nucleoside-modified mRNA for therapy. Her patents, co-invented with Drew Weissman on nucleoside-modified uridines in mRNA is used to create the FDA-approved COVID-19 mRNA vaccines by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna/NIH. For her achievement she received many prestigious awards, including the Reichstein Medal, Princess Asturias Award, the Vilcek Prize, the Paul Ehrlich Prize, the Breakthrough prize and the Lasker-DeBakey Award.