Three scientists whose research laid the foundation for messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccines were named the winners of the 2022 Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science at a ceremony in Taipei yesterday.
Katalin Kariko, Drew Weissman and Pieter Cullis were recognized “for the discovery of key vaccinology concepts and approaches, leading to the successful development of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines,” the Tang Prize Foundation said.
The technologies developed by the three laureates “not only revolutionized vaccinology, but also signaled a paradigm shift in protein therapy. They represent the advent of a new era of RNA-based therapies,” the foundation said.
Kariko and Weissman, who have worked together for more than two decades, created a modified version of mRNA that would not cause an inflammatory response when injected into the body. The technology is used in the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
Cullis is a pioneer in delivery systems for mRNA to human cells, based on lipid nanoparticles, which are bubbles of fat that wrap around and protect mRNA.
In a recorded video, Kariko said she was honored and humbled to learn that she had received the award along with Weissman and Cullis.
Weissman said a shared interest in science, a hunger for learning and perseverance formed the foundation of his partnership with Kariko.
Cullis credited his collaborators and colleagues for the award.
“The award is really being given for the work of literally hundreds of people that I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the last 40 years, so it’s really fantastic,” he said.
The three also credited curiosity, collaboration and finding joy in their work as critical to their efforts in the research.
Kariko is an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a senior vice president at BioNTech. She was born in Hungary and moved to the US after obtaining a doctorate in biochemistry.
Weissman, a US researcher, is the director of vaccine research at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.
Cullis is a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of British Columbia. The Canadian researcher has cofounded several companies, including Integrated Nano Therapeutics, Molecular You and Acuitus Therapeutics.
The Tang Prize is a biennial award established in 2012 by Taiwanese entrepreneur Samuel Yin (尹衍樑), chairman of the Ruentex Group, to honor people who have made prominent contributions in four categories: sustainable development, biopharmaceutical science, Sinology and rule of law.
The winners in each category share a cash award of NT$40 million (US$1.35 million) and NT$10 million in research funding.
RISK FACTORS: ‘We hope people can cooperate and endure it ... it is possibly the very important last mile,’ Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung said Taiwan’s COVID-19 restrictions and mask regulations are to remain the same next month, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The center reported 42,112 new local COVID-19 cases and 85 deaths, saying that the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has dropped to a new low this month. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said that the center is keeping COVID-19 restrictions and mask regulations the same due to the local virus situation, and an increase in the number of imported cases of the new Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 of SARS-CoV-2, among other risk factors. Easing
TRAVEL CONFERENCE: Representatives from the two countries exchanged views on how to increase tourist numbers, with one identifying individual travel as a trend Taiwan and South Korea aim to increase the number of tourists traveling between the two countries to 3 million, government and tourism industry representatives said at a conference in Hsinchu City yesterday. The annual event was attended by Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Chen Yen-po (陳彥伯); Tourism Bureau Director-General Chang Shi-chung (張錫聰); Taiwan Visitors Association chairwoman Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭); South Korean Representative to Taiwan Chung Byung-won; Yoon Ji-sook, an official at the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; and Korea Association of Travel Agents chairman Oh Chang-hee. Global tourism is expected to soon rebound to between 55 and
DAMAGE CONTROL: The KMT in a statement called the Taiwan Strait ‘international waters,’ after Alexander Huang said China had the right to claim it as internal waters Lawmakers and experts yesterday accused the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) envoy to the US Alexander Huang (黃介正) of acting as China’s stooge, after he said that Beijing has the right to claim waters beyond its maritime territory as its exclusive economic zone and that the US has no legal basis to assert that the Taiwan Strait is an “international waterway.” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said in an online post that most of the world considers the Strait an international waterway, adding that this is important for safeguarding Taiwan. “We have seen US warships transiting through the Taiwan Strait.
The Taichung District Court yesterday sentenced to nine years in prison an unlicensed judo coach who caused the death of a seven-year-old student after slamming him onto the ground more than a dozen times. In its decision against the coach, a man surnamed Ho (何), the court cited his lack of remorse for using excessive force against an inadequately trained child and his failure to reconcile with the parents for his role in their son’s death. Speaking on behalf of the boy’s mother, Taichung City Councilor Jacky Chen (陳清龍) said the family would appeal to a higher court. Prosecutors said that Ho on