10th Lindahl Lecture

-Compassion- -Honor- -Generosity- -Curiosity- -Vision- -Humor-

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Katalin Karikó, PhD

Co-inventor of the modified mRNA technology used in vaccines to prevent COVID-19 infection


Katalin Karikó, PhD, is a biochemist and researcher, best known for her contributions to mRNA technology and the COVID-19 vaccines. Karikó and co-collaborator Drew Weissman, MD, PhD, invented the modified mRNA technology used in vaccines to prevent COVID-19 infection. 

More than 15 years ago at Penn Medicine, Karikó and Weissman found a way to modify mRNA and later developed a delivery technique to package the mRNA in lipid nanoparticles. This made it possible for mRNA to reach the proper part of the body and trigger an immune response to fight disease.

These laboratory breakthroughs made mRNA safe, effective, and practical for use as a vaccine against COVID.

Karikó is a senior vice president at BioNTech and an adjunct professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania. She joined the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in 1989 and began collaborating with Weissman in 1997.





About the Lindahl Lecture series

The Lindahl Lecture was established in 2013 in honor of Dr. Sten Lindahl, Chair Emeritus of the Nobel Committee in Physiology or Medicine, Professor Emeritus at Karolinska Institutet, and the kindest, most amazing man you’ll ever meet.

The Lindahl Lecture honors mentorship as the foundation of innovation and scientific advancement.


Past Lecturers

2021 Elizabeth H. Blackburn, PhD |  2009 Nobel Laureate; Professor Emerita, Biochemistry and Biophysics, UCSF

2020 Larry F. Abbott, PhD |  William Bloor Professor of Theoretical Neuroscience and Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics (in Biological Sciences), Zuckerman Institute, Columbia University

2019 Svante Pääbo, PhD |  Director, Max Planck Institute For Evolutionary Anthropology; Member, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

2018 Jennifer Doudna, PhD  | 2020 Nobel Laureate; Co-discoverer of CRISPR-Cas9 Gene Editing; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences, UC Berkeley; Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology, UC Berkeley

2017 Warren M. Zapol, MD |  Emeritus Anesthetist-in-Chief, Massachusetts General Hospital; Reginald Jenney Professor of Anesthesia, Harvard Medical School

2016 Kevin J. Tracey, MD |  President and CEO, the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research; Professor of Neurosurgery and Molecular Medicine, Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell; President, the Elmezzi Graduate School of Molecular Medicine

2015 Bruce Beutler, MD  |  2011 Nobel Laureate; Director, Center for the Genetics of Host Defense, Regental Professor; Raymond and Ellen Willie Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research, in Honor of Laverne and Raymond Willie, Sr., UT Southwestern Medical Center

2014 Robert S. Langer, ScD  |  2002 Charles Stark Draper Prize recipient; David H. Koch Institute Professor, MIT; The youngest person in history (at 43) to be elected to all three American science academies: the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine

2013 Sten Lindahl, MD, PhD, FRCA  |  Chair Emeritus of the Nobel Committee in Physiology or Medicine; Professor Emeritus Karolinska Institutet