Hungarian-born biochemist Katalin Kariko who played a critical role in the development of the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech has been named an honorary citizen of Szeged; Where she started her university studies.
Kariko, who is Vice President of BioNTech, is best known for her work with mRNA technology used in Pfizer and Moderna Covid vaccines.
But the researcher feels she did everything she could in the fight against the COVID pandemic and will now return to her previous projects, such as developing a vaccine against cancer.
“I think at the moment, testing new variants and, if necessary, making a new vaccine — that can be done by my colleagues,” she said.
“I want to focus on making RNA that encodes therapeutic proteins that will help with wound healing and bone scarring or that will help treat cancer patients.”
Catalin Carrico moved to the United States in the 1980s. Prior to that, she studied at Szeged University in southern Hungary and then did her Ph.D. at the Szeged Center for Biological Research.
In addition to being awarded the status of an honorary citizen, she met her alma mater from the University of Szeged and remembered that some of the subjects were particularly challenging.
“I was more afraid of organic chemistry,” she recalls.
“Gábor Bernáth was teaching us all the heterocyclic compounds—we couldn’t stop memorizing the special names. In the end, I chose the simplest of them, polyamines, which was very simple, and there was nothing inhomogeneous about it.”
Having received several professional awards, Katalin Cariko is now contending for this year’s Nobel Prize.