Fels Public Policy in Practice Speaker Series with Elizabeth Vale featuring Dr. Drew Weissman and Dr. Katalin Karikó

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Thursday, October 28, 2021 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Event Information: 

Join us for October’s Public Policy in Practice event as we welcome Dr. Drew Weissman and Dr. Katalin Karikó whose groundbreaking work unlocked the opportunity for the therapeutic use of mRNA.

Dr. Drew Weissman is a professor of Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.  The physician-scientist is best known for his work with RNA biology that laid the groundwork for the mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. Dr. Weissman is an inventor of many patents. He received his BA and MA from Brandeis in 1981, where he majored in biochemistry/enzymology and worked in the lab of Gerald Fasman.  He did graduate work at Boston University School of Medicine in immunology/microbiology where he received his MD and his PhD in 1987. Dr. Weissman, in collaboration with Dr. Katalin Karikó, discovered the ability of modified nucleosides in RNA to suppress activation of innate immune sensors and increase the translation of mRNA containing certain modified nucleosides. This groundbreaking work unlocked the opportunity for the therapeutic use of mRNA.  This was the foundation for the FDA-approved anti-SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines developed by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna/NIAID that are crucial to ending the global pandemic.

Dr. Katalin Karikó is Senior Vice President at BioNTech RNA Pharmaceuticals from 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 PhD 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. This groundbreaking work unlocked the opportunity for the therapeutic use of mRNA. Her patents, co-invented with Dr. Drew Weissman, on nucleoside-modified uridines of mRNA, was the foundation for the FDA-approved anti-SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines developed by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna/NIAID that are crucial to ending the global pandemic.

About the series:

The Public Policy in Practice Series, led by Fels Distinguished Fellow Elizabeth Vale, is designed to provide students with a variety of perspectives and compelling personal narratives that will help them not only form their opinions on important issues but will also help shape their careers. This series is offered in conjunction with the Fels graduate Public Management course required of all Fels MPA and Executive MPA students. Fels is proud to offer these important conversations to the entire Penn community and members of the public.

Remarks begin promptly at 6 p.m.

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Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326
felsinstitute@sas.upenn.edu