NEW YORK, October 1, 2021 / PRNewswire / – Katalin KarikÃ³, whose discovery of how to prevent synthetic RNA from activating the innate immune system, paving the way for RNA vaccines including two for SARS-CoV-2, will receive on 2022 Pearl Meister Greengard Award, Rockefeller University announced today. The Pearl Meister Greengard Prize is the most prestigious international award that recognizes outstanding women scientists. KarikÃ³ is senior vice president of biotechnology company BioNTech and associate associate professor of neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania. She will receive the award at a ceremony next year at Rockefeller University.
For more than 30 years, KarikÃ³ has focused on messenger RNA, the single-stranded molecule that carries instructions from DNA to ribosomes in the cell, the factories that make proteins. Convinced that she could harness this basic cellular process to provide better vaccines and drugs, KarikÃ³ worked to design an mRNA that would not induce a potentially fatal autoimmune reaction. With his long-time collaborator Drew weissman, KarikÃ³ discovered that endogenous RNAs have specific chemical modifications that prevent this immune activation. Their research was the basis of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines and shows promise for the treatment of other incurable diseases.
KarikÃ³ is the recipient of numerous honors, most recently the Lasker Award 2021. Earlier this month, it was announced that KarikÃ³ would receive the 2022 Life Sciences Breakthrough Award.
“We are indebted to KarikÃ³ for his tremendous insight into the potential use of mRNA to fight disease. His scientific foresight and tenacity have led to life-saving vaccines to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus and provided new strategies to fight new infections in the future â, says Michael W. Young, Richard and Jeanne Fisher Professor and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Rockefeller, Nobel Laureate and Chairman of the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize Selection Committee.
The Pearl Meister Greengard Award was founded by the late Paul Greengard, who was Vincent Astor Professor of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience at Rockefeller, and his wife, Ursula von Rydingsvard, an internationally renowned sculptor with works in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and other venues. A longtime advocate for gender equality, Greengard donated his monetary share of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Rockefeller and, in partnership with generous donors, created an annual award to recognize outstanding women scientists. The price, which includes a $ 100,000 fees, bears the name of Greengard’s mother, who died during her birth.
On Rockefeller University
Rockefeller University is one of the world’s leading biomedical research universities and is dedicated to conducting high-quality, innovative research to improve understanding of life for the benefit of humanity. The university’s unique approach to science has led to some of the world’s most revolutionary and transformative contributions to biology and medicine. While by Rockefeller 120 years of history, our scientists have won 26 Nobel Prizes, 25 Albert Lasker Medical Research Prizes and 20 National Science Medals.
Head of Media Relations, The Rockefeller University
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