ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Three scientists have won the 2021 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, a distinguished prize, during an awards ceremony on Wednesday. Their findings allowed for the rapid development of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines.
The recipients are:
- Barney S. Graham, M.D., Ph.D., former Deputy Director, Vaccine Research Center, and Chief, Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health
- Katalin Karikó, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, RNA Protein Replacement Therapies BioNTech SE, and Adjunct Professor of Neurosurgery, the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
- Drew Weissman, M.D., Ph.D., the Roberts Family Professor of Vaccine Research, the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
RNA is a molecule found in human cells. Pieces of RNA are used to construct proteins inside the body so that new cells can grow. There are several different types of RNA, including mRNA (messenger RNA), to build proteins necessary for human life. mRNA is used in the COVID vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
Since 2001, the annual award of $500,000 has been granted to those who have altered and positively impacted the course of medical research. In 2020, the program paused due to the pandemic. Because of this, this year’s recipients will collectively receive $1 million.
The Albany Prize is one of the most significant prizes in medicine and science in the United States.
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