Katalin Karikó has been Senior Vice President at BioNTech RNA Pharmaceuticals since 2013. She is also Adjunct Associate Professor at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, where she worked for 24 years. She received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from University of Szeged, Hungary, in 1982. For four decades, her research has been focusing on RNA-mediated mechanisms with the ultimate goal of developing in vitro-transcribed mRNA for protein therapy.
She investigated RNA-mediated immune activation and co-discovered that nucleoside modifications suppress immunogenicity of RNA, which widened the therapeutic potentials of mRNA. She is co-inventor on mRNA-related patents for application of non-immunogenic, nucleoside-modified RNA. She co-founded and from 2006-2013 served as CEO of RNARx, a company dedicated to develop nucleoside-modified mRNA for therapy. She is a founding member of the scientific planning committee for the International mRNA Health Conference, an annual non-profit meeting for advancements of mRNA technology, inaugurated in 2013.
She served as guest editor of the Molecular Therapy special issue on mRNA Therapy, in 2019. Her patent, co-invented with Drew Weissman on nucleoside-modified uridines in mRNA, is used to create the anti-SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines, BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna/NIH, respectively. She has 10 U.S. patents granted.