Today's mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 – currently the world’s best hope to end the pandemic – got their start at Penn Medicine. Two Penn researchers, Katalin Karikó, PhD, and Drew Weissman, MD, PhD, invented messenger RNA (mRNA) technology that serves as the foundation of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
Drs. Karikó and Weissman's mRNA discovery opened the floodgates for additional mRNA vaccines with potential to eradicate countless other diseases, even cancer.
They have received the world’s most prestigious prizes for their discovery science efforts, including the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, the Breakthrough Prize and the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research.