2021. November 30., Tuesday


Katalin Karikó and Three Fellow Researchers to Receive the William B. Coley Award for mRNA Technology Key to Cancer Treatment

Katalin Karikó, Uğur Sahin, Özlem Türeci and Drew Weissman will receive the 2021 William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic Immunology, as announced by the US-based Cancer Research Institute (CRI). According to the institute, the technology associated with the developers of the mRNA vaccine that curbed the COVID-19 pandemic, “this technology will play a big role in cancer treatment”. The William B. Coley Award will be presented to the four researchers during a virtual ceremony that will take place on November 10.

The Cancer Research Institute (CRI) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to harnessing the immune system’s power to control and potentially cure all types of cancer. The William B. Coley Award for outstanding research in basic immunology will be given to four key scientists responsible for the discovery and development of the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine against COVID-19, CRI announced on 4 November 2021 in New York.

CRI will present the prestigious 2021 Coley Awards to Katalin Karikó, Ph.D., of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and BioNTech, and Drew Weissman, M.D., Ph.D., of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania along with BioNTech co-founders Ugur Sahin, M.D., Ph.D., and Özlem Türeci, M.D., Ph.D., during a virtual ceremony to take place on November 10. During this virtual awards ceremony— called “Future Look: How COVID-19 Vaccines Are Accelerating New Cancer Treatments” – the four researchers will take part in an historic joint interview moderated by TIME science and medicine writer Alice Park.

„Many attendees likely will be surprised to learn that the mRNA technology that changed lives during the current COVID-19 pandemic originated years ago in research intended to combat cancer” said Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, Ph.D., chief executive officer and director of scientific affairs at CRI, explaining the organization’s award decision. „And just as importantly for millions of patients, mRNA will play a big role in cancer treatment going forward." The Cancer Research Institute (CRI) expects to accelerate cancer immunotherapy and vaccine development following the extraordinary validation of mRNA against COVID-19.

The Cancer Research Institute established this award in 1975 in honor of Dr. William B. Coley, now regarded as the Father of Cancer Immunotherapy, whose daughter Helen Coley Nauts (1907-2001) founded the Cancer Research Institute. In the US, the Coley Prize is considered a predictor of the Lasker Prize and the Nobel Prize. To date, it has been given to 115 immunologists and tumor immunologists including the 2021 recipients.

The first prize was awarded in 1975 to a group of 16 scientists considered to be the "founders of cancer immunology". This group includes, among others, Hungarian-born Éva Klein (Fischer) and her husband György Klein. The Klein couple specialised in cancer research at the Swedish Karolinska Institute. Many researchers, who have been awarded the William B. Coley Prize, are also Nobel Prize-winning scientists. One of them is Sir Gregory Winter, whom Katalin Karikó met and had discussions with in Cambridge a few days ago.

For more information about Dr. Katalin Karikó, Honorary Doctor and Alumnus of the University of Szeged, please visit the SZTE news portal or the website of the SZTE Klebelsberg Library.

Article written by: Ilona Újszászi

Translated by: Rita Csúri-Magosi

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