Abington Biochemist’s Research Reaps Record $1 Billion in Royalties for Penn

Katalin Kariko and mRNA
Image via Dr. Katalin Karikó Twitter.

Research performed by Abington biochemist Katalin Karikó that led to the development of COVID-19 vaccines netted the University of Pennsylvania nearly $1 billion in royalties, writes Harold Brubaker for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Karikó and immunologist Drew Weissman published a little-noticed paper in 2005. It focused on messenger RNA, or mRNA, and their discovery that chemically modifying those molecules would enable them to slip past the immune system and give the human body instructions on how to fight off infectious diseases or other ailments.

Years later, this research proved to be instrumental in creating the life-saving mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine by both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, providing Penn with a substantial amount in royalties.

Karikó, an adjunct professor of neurosurgery at Penn and a senior vice president at BioNTech in Germany, and Weissman are also entitled to a part of Penn’s gains. These could go as high as several hundred million dollars split between them.

“We are incredibly excited to see a lifetime of work be used to help people during this tragic pandemic that has affected the entire world,” said the two scientists.

Read more about Katalin Karikó in The Philadelphia Inquirer.