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Katalin Karikó

Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine 2023

Year of election: 2022
Section: Human Genetics and Molecular Medicine
City: Mainz
Country: Germany
CV Katalin Karikó - English (PDF)
CV Katalin Karikó - German (PDF)


Research Priorities: mRNA therapy, mRNA vaccines, neurodegenerative diseases

Katalin Karikó is a Hungarian American (US) neuroscientist and biochemist who recognised at an early stage the potential of synthetically produced mRNA for the treatment of immunological and oncological diseases and of vaccine development. Katalin Karikó has made a significant contribution to the basic research on which current mRNA technology is based.

The biochemist searched for ways to prevent the inflammatory processes triggered by synthetic mRNA, which have stood in the way of a medical application of mRNA technology for a long time. She observed that the inflammation reaction can be avoided pseudouridine with its different spatial arrangement was incorporated into the mRNA instead of uridine, the nucleoside building block . Embedded in nanolipid particles, an mRNA modified in this way forms the basis for the mRNA vaccines that have been used worldwide since the end of 2020 and have since immunised millions of people against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. With this research Katalin Karikó has laid the foundations of a new technology. Future possible applications are so diverse that they are hard to estimate at present.

The scientist is now focusing on extending mRNA technology to therapeutic proteins for treating tissue injuries and above all for treating tumour diseases. With this aim, Katalin Karikó continues to conduct basic research to obtain a deeper understanding of mRNA technology.

Since her PhD, the biochemist has also been interested in the causes of neurodegenerative diseases, in which a certain section of the genetic code in the DNA is present in multiple repetitions and thus leads to faulty RNA and ultimately to neurotoxic proteins. However, mutated RNA not only produces a defective protein, but can also exert further toxic effects, for example by disrupting the folding of the protein which is crucial for a protein's action. These genetically determined diseases are also referred to as RNA toxicity diseases. In addition to Huntington's disease, they include Friedreich's ataxia, fragile X ataxia, movement disorders of the central nervous system and forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Katalin Karikó's team is researching such faulty RNA protein interactions with their neurotoxic effects at the molecular level in order to identify target molecules for innovative treatment approaches.


  • since 2021 Professor, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary
  • since 2021 Adjunct Professor of Neurosurgery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA
  • 2019-2022 Senior Vice President, BioNTech SE, Germany
  • 2013-2019 Vice President, BioNTech SE, Germany
  • 2009-2021 Adjunct Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA
  • 1997-2009 Senior Head of Research, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA
  • 1989-1997 Scientific Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA
  • 1988-1989 Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Pathology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), Bethesda, USA
  • 1985-1988 Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biochemistry, Temple University, Philadelphia, USA
  • 1982-1985 Postdoctoral Fellow, Biological Research Centre, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Szeged, Hungary
  • 1978-1982 PhD in Biochemistry, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary
  • 1973-1978 Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Biology, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary

Honours and Memberships

  • 2023 Fries Prize for Improving Health, CDC Foundation, Atlanta, USA
  • 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (together with Drew Weissman), Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2023 Member, European Molecular Biology Organization
  • 2022 Member, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Germany
  • 2022 Vilcek Prize for Excellence in Biotechnology, Vilcek Foundation, New York City, USA
  • 2022 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, Breakthrough Prize Foundation, San Francisco, USA
  • 2022 Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize, Paul Ehrlich Foundation, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 2022 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, The Rockefeller University, New York City, USA
  • 2022 UNESCO L’Oréal Prize “For Women in Science”, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and L’Oréal S.A., Paris, France
  • 2022 Louis-Jeantet Prize, Louis-Jeantet Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 2022 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science, Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, USA
  • 2022 Gairdner International Award, Gairdner Foundation, Toronto, Canada
  • 2022 Helmholtz Medal, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Germany
  • 2022 VinFuture Grand Prize, VinFuture Prize Foundation, Hanoi, Vietnam
  • 2022 Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal, National Academy of Sciences, USA
  • 2022 Japan Prize, The Science and Technology Foundation of Japan (JSTF), Japan
  • 2022 Werner von Siemens Ring, Stiftung Werner-von-Siemens-Ring, Berlin, Germany
  • 2022 Novo Nordisk Prize, Novo Nordisk Foundation, Hellerup, Denmark
  • 2022 Member. American Academy of Arts and Sciences, USA
  • 2022 Ross Prize in Molecular Medicine, Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research and Molecular Medicine, Northwell Health, New York City, USA
  • 2022 Honorary Member, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary
  • 2022 Warren Alpert Foundation Prize, Warren Alpert Foundation, Providence, USA
  • 2022 Tang Prize for Biopharmaceutical Research, Tang Prize Foundation, Taipei City, Taiwan
  • 2022 BBVA Award, BBVA Foundation, Bilbao, and Spanish National Research Council, Spain
  • 2022 Solvay Prize, Solvay Prize Organization, Brussels, Belgium
  • 2022 Park MahnHoon Award, International Vaccine Institute, Seoul, South Korea
  • 2022 European Inventor Award, “Lifetime Achievement” category, European Patent Organisation
  • 2022 Honorary Doctorate, Yale University, New Haven, USA
  • 2022 Ehrendoktorwürde, Rockefeller University, New York City, USA
  • 2022 Ehrendoktorwürde, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 2022 Honorary Doctorate, Free University of Brussels (ULB), Brussels, Belgium
  • 2022 Honorary Doctorate, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
  • 2022 Honorary Doctorate, Eötvös-Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary
  • 2021 Foreign Member, Académie des sciences, Paris, France
  • 2021 AAAS Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, USA
  • 2021 Honorary Doctorate, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary
  • 2021 Honorary Doctorate, Humanitas University, Milan, Italy
  • 2021 Honorary Doctorate, Duke University, Durham, USA
  • 2021 Meyenburg Prize, Meyenburg Foundation, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2021 Reichstein Medal, Swiss Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Switzerland
  • 2021 German Future Prize, Federal President’s Prize for Technology and Innovation, Germany
  • 2021 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, Lasker Foundation, New York City, USA
  • 2021 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, Columbia University, New York City, USA
  • 2021 Paul Janssen Award, Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, USA
  • 2021 Prince Mahidol Award, Prince Mahidol Award Foundation, Bangkok, Thailand
  • 2021 Wilhelm Exner Medal, Austrian Trade Association, Vienna, Austria
  • 2021 Grande Médaille, Académie des sciences, Paris, France
  • 2021 Coley Award in Basic Immunology, Cancer Research Institute, New York City, USA
  • 2021 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, University at Albany, Albany, USA
  • 2021 Keio Medical Science Prize, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan
  • 2021 Janos Bolyai Prize, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary
  • 2021 Semmelweis Award, Hungarian Government, Budapest, Hungary
  • 2021 Princess Asturias Award, Princess Asturias Foundation, Oviedo, Spain
  • 2021 Széchenyi Prize, Hungarian Government, Budapest, Hungary
  • 2020 Elected Member, Academia Europaea
  • 2009 Honorary Citizenship, Kisújszállás, Hungary




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