The CIVICs Network is thrilled to congratulate Dr. Drew Weissman, an investigator who is part of the Duke CIVIC Vaccine Center, on winning the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Dr. Weissman shares the prize with Dr. Katalin Karikó; together, they are honored “for their discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19” (Nobel Prize press release). Karikó and Weissman found that modified mRNA bases nearly abolished an inflammatory response in cells and increased production of the associated protein. Solving these two challenges paved the way for testing mRNA vaccine candidates against Zika virus, MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus), and eventually SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), the causative agent of COVID-19. The advances of mRNA technology opened the doors for further vaccine and therapeutic development, such as CIVICs-funded influenza vaccine candidates in current and future clinical trials.
Read more about Dr. Weissman’s accomplishments in the Nobel Prize press release here.