Some may doubt the efficacy of the Covid mRNA vaccines, but not the Nobel Prize committee. The jury has named Hungarian Katalin Kariko and American Drew Weissman as co-winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine for 2023, saying their discoveries were critical for developing effective mRNA vaccines against Covid.
“Through their groundbreaking findings, which have fundamentally changed our understanding of how mRNA interacts with our immune system, the laureates contributed to the unprecedented rate of vaccine development during one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times,” the jury wrote.
Kariko, born in Hungary, was a medical researcher, and then was senior vice president at BioNTech RNA Pharmaceuticals. Since 2021, she has been a professor at Szeged University in Hungary and an adjunct professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Drew Weissman was born in Massachusetts, and established a research group at the Perelman School of Medicine, where he began collaborating with Kariko in 1997. He is the Roberts Family Professor in Vaccine Research and Director of the Penn Institute for RNA Innovations.
The pair, who met while waiting in line to use a photocopy machine, worked together for many years. They were selected for the world’s most prestigious prize by the Nobel Assembly of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute medical university. They will share the 11 million Swedish crown award, worth about $1 million U.S. dollars, between them. The prize money is considered taxable by the IRS.