Nobel Prize in medicine awarded to scientists who laid foundation for messenger RNA

A follow up to Joel Eissenberg’s commentary on mRNA and how it came to be at BioNTech. This seemed interesting enough to add another post on mRNA discovery. Some more detail . . .

Nobel Prize in medicine awarded to scientists who laid foundation for messenger RNA vaccines (, Carolyn Y. Johnson

The Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded Monday to two scientists whose research laid the groundwork for messenger RNA vaccines that transformed the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

Early in her career, Katalin Kariko, 68, a Hungarian-born scientist, saw mRNA’s medical potential and pursued it with ferocious and single-minded tenacity exiling her to the outskirts of science. A chance meeting over a photocopier at the University of Pennsylvania 25 years ago, aligned her closely with Drew Weissman, an immunologist who saw similar potential for the technology to create a new kind of vaccine.

Today, the power of messenger RNA is obvious:

It is the backbone of coronavirus vaccines that were developed in record time and have been given billions of times. But for decades, the idea this fragile genetic material could be a medicine was a tantalizing, unlikely possibility dangling at the margins of mainstream science.

Kariko and Weissman’s complementary knowledge helped to unravel a way to chemically tweak messenger RNA, turning basic biology into a useful medical technology ready to change the world when the pandemic struck. Their discovery is incorporated into the coronavirus vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, which have now been administered billions of times. For Kariko, it was awe-inspiring ideas, unnoticed successes, and repeated rejections.

There is more to the story in the attached article.


I am old enough to remember getting the polio vaccine delivered via a shot in the arm. At my age then, I was not thrilled with getting shots in the arm or having someone scratch my skin and deliver a smallpox inoculation. I do not bear the scar from such a vaccination which many of those people receiving a smallpox vaccine then show evidence of it.

The speed at which the Covid vaccine was created and brought to bear is amazing in itself. The other amazing action was by the administration of the vaccines. The organization and delivery of the Covid vaccine by University of Michigan Ann Arbor and other university sites to its patients was outstanding in practice. They set aside the U of M Football stadium rooms overlooking the stadium. This was a room which could hold several hundred people. Chairs were set apart with some being two or four chairs and singular chairs also. You received your shot as scheduled for whatever time you signed up for and sat afterwards for 15 minutes in the chairs. They were using the Pfizer vaccines.

No long lines and spacing of people in the initial line was provided for also. Hopefully we do not have such a pandemic again.

Who invented the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine Technology? Angry Bear