Katalin Karikó

66 years


Biochemist (specialises in RNA-mediated mechanisms)


Senior Vice President BioNTech

  • Co-founded and was CEO of RNARx, adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Co-discovery of nucleoside modifications that suppress the immunogenicity of RNA
  • Current recipient of the Vilcek Prize for Excellence in Biotechnology
More about Katalin

Katalin (Kati) is a Hungarian biochemist working in the USA. She came up against opposition and disinterest in developing her research stream around the potential for mRNA (messenger RNA) as a genetic script that carries DNA instructions to each cell’s protein- making machinery.

Kati lost her job and moved to the US. She still faced opposition via limited funding and redundancies, before finding collaborators who were using DNA to make vaccines.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, her research was at an advanced stage and played a crucial role in development of the Pfizer vaccine.

Her most impactful work has been completed after age 50.

Her career and work on the covid vaccine featured in the New York Times in April 2021.

Source: HBR ‘Mature Entrepreneurs’