Nobel Prize in Medicine 2023 – Katalin Kariko

Katalin Kariko went through many problems in her life. The exile from her country, Hungary, the indifference of her colleagues for being a woman, the demotion at a university and the obligation to retire early. In 2023, she received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for her research and development of messenger RNA, the vaccine that saved thousands of lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nobel Prize in Medicine

Katalin Kariko

He is an example of resilience for continuing with his research despite everything and everyone. The 2023 Nobel Prize in Medicine was shared with immunologist Drew Weissman. Dr. Kariko was born in Hungary in 1955, her mother was an accountant and her father was a butcher.

At that time, his country was under Soviet rule, so his people lacked even the most basic things. They had no electricity, no refrigerator, no running water, among other things.

Since she was little, she was attracted to biology, especially plants. In 1978, when she was 23 years old, she obtained a doctorate at the University of Szeged, where she was part of the Szeged Scientific Research Center. There she dedicated herself to the study of lipids.

His research changed completely when he met Jenö Tomasz, owner of a laboratory that researched RNA. However, his scientific advances were not applicable to use in medicine, so she was left without funding for her research.

In 1985 she decided to travel to the United States in search of a new opportunity, with her husband and 2-year-old daughter. Once settled in the United States, she participated in a trial treating HIV patients at Temple University in Philadelphia.

She begins to study what leads her to win the Nobel Prize in Medicine

In 1989 he entered the University of Pennsylvania, where together with cardiologist Elliot Barnathan he dedicated himself to the study of mRNA. Together they showed that mRNA, once entered into cells, could direct the production of new proteins. However, the scientific community did not value that discovery.

In 1990, Barnathan left the university and Katalin was invited to leave the laboratory, as they believed that her research was not important. Even though she was demoted to a lower position, Katalin stayed, as she needed a work contract to avoid being deported.

In 1997 he began working with Drew Weissman, who at the time was researching a vaccine for HIV. Ella Katalin offered to use mRNA for her research. They had some achievements, although, as on other occasions, the scientific community did not consider them applicable.

In 2013, the University of Pennsylvania forced her to retire. However, at 58 years old, she was hired by BioNTech, a German company dedicated to biotechnology. In another example of resilience, she left her husband in the United States and moved to Germany alone. The rest is history, the messenger RNA vaccine saved the world, and promises a cure for cancer.

mRNA vaccine

Currently, Katalin Karicó is a shining star for the scientific community, the same one that demoted her so many times.

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