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Penn scientists win $3 million Breakthrough Prize for RNA research that enabled COVID-19 vaccines

Sixteen years after their research at the University of Pennsylvania paved the way for billions to be vaccinated against COVID-19, two scientists have been honored with a $3 million Breakthrough Prize.

The award for Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, one of five such honors announced Thursday for achievements in science and math, recognizes their success in modifying the genetic molecule called messenger RNA (mRNA) so it can instruct human cells to make customized proteins.