Hungarian biochemist Katalin Karikó and fellow researcher Drew Weissman, both of the University of Pennsylvania, will receive the 2022 Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal awarded by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in the United States. Dr. Katalin Karikó is the first Hungarian to receive this recognition.
According to the NAS website, Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman have made revolutionary contributions to enable the effective use of mRNA delivery for vaccines and immunotherapies.
Their work developing nucleoside-modified mRNA and nucleoside-modified mRNA-lipid nanoparticle vaccine platforms contributed to the foundations for the first two approved COVID-19 vaccines.
Karikó and Weissman demonstrated that the modified mRNA was non-inflammatory, and very efficiently translated into proteins when injected into animals, opening the potential to use this new mRNA technology for therapeutic treatments. Their research has demonstrated that nucleoside-modified mRNA can be used to vaccinate animals against a variety of pathogens, including the influenza virus, HIV, SARS-CoV-2, and malaria. This seminal work in the field has the potential for numerous applications such as preventing infection, treating various acute and chronic disease, and gene editing, the website says.
The Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal is awarded every two years for outstanding research in the medical sciences. The medal carries with it a USD 25,000 award, and an additional USD 50,000 for research. The Kovalenko Fund, gifted by Michael S. Kovalenko in 1949 to the National Academy of Science in memory of his wife, Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko, was specifically designed to recognize the achievements made to the medical sciences and, over the past 67 years, has honored many outstanding contributors.
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