The Story of a Woman Who Saved the World

Dr. Katalin Karikó was a biochemist in Hungary who didn’t get the respect or funding her research deserved. So she, her husband, and infant daughter made their way out of communist Hungary in 1985 by selling their car, converting the money on the black market, and hiding it inside the baby’s toys. She made it to the US and got a research job at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine. While that’s quite a story, it was only beginning. Karikó ran into the same problems in the US- supervisors who did not believe in her research and would not go to bat to get the funding she needed.

You see, Karikó was a pioneer working with messenger RNA, or mRNA. She believed it could be made to work against a host of human illnesses, but the substance was a problem to work with in the lab. Her colleagues considered her experiments failures, but Karikó considered them learning experiences. Still, it was hard to get funding without someone higher up to believe in what you’re doing. She began to collaborate with immunologist Drew Weissman, who was looking for a vaccine for HIV. They had a breakthrough in 1997, but it still took several years to get a peer-reviewed paper published. By 2013, Karikó was making progress, but she had worked for Penn for almost 30 years, and she’d had enough. She left for a position at a fairly new biomedical startup called BioNTech.

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You can see where this story is going. You can read the full version at Glamour magazine. -via Metafilter

Source: neatorama

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