Katalin Karikó, PhDSenior Vice President RNA Protein Replacement Therapy at BioNTech
Katalin Karikó works at BioNTech from 2013. Prior to that, she worked at the University of Pennsylvania for 24 years. She received her PhD in biochemistry from University of Szeged, Hungary, in 1982. Her thesis work involved synthesis and antiviral evaluation of short 2’-5’-linked oligonucleotides. For 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. Her patent, co-invented on nucleoside-modified uridines of mRNA, was the foundation for the FDA-approved COVID-19 mRNA vaccines developed by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna/NIH.