The University of Pennsylvania is basking in the glow of Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, two researchers who recently discovered they had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their groundbreaking work on messenger RNA, writes Gregory Zuckerman for The Wall Street Journal.
Karikó and Weissman did most of their research at the school, and as a result, Penn made millions of dollars from patenting their work.
“Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman are brilliant researchers who represent the epitome of scientific inspiration and determination,” said Penn’s president, Liz Magill.
But until recently, the school and its faculty had not realized the value of one of their work. After years of being on the tenure track, Penn demoted Karikó and cut her pay. Some of her colleagues even refused to work with her.
However, after a chance meeting at a copy machine, she was able to persuade Weissman to work with her on mRNA and attempt to modify it for vaccines and drugs.
Since then, the Abington scientist has proven all of her detractors wrong and reached the pinnacle of science. Her research was instrumental in developing mRNA vaccines that saved millions of lives worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, Karikó is an adjunct professor in Penn’s department of Neurosurgery.