Professor Drew Weissman

Professor Drew Weissman M.D., Ph.D.

2021 in Medicine

Professor Drew Weissman received his M.D. and Ph.D. from Boston University, USA before attended the training program with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who received the Prince Mahidol Award in the field of medicine in 2013, at the National Institutes of Health, Maryland, USA.

Assoc. Prof. Karikó and Prof. Weissman have been working side by side in developing mRNA technology and its applications in medicine. In 2006, they discovered that modification of nucleosides in mRNA could reduce cellular reactions toward foreign RNA. This was an important step in the utilization of mRNA technology. Foreign RNA is naturally recognized by cellular anti-viral machinery, which suppresses translation of mRNA and induces inflammation. These reactions were the main obstacle preventing the applications of mRNA in prevention and treatment of diseases. This and subsequent studies of Assoc. Prof. Karikó and Prof. Weissman have led to the use of pseudouridine in mRNA production and invention of purification method for pseudouriine-containing mRNA. These are the critical basis for the mRNA vaccine development. Prof. Karikó and Prof. Weissman have also played important role in the rapid development of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine.

The achievement of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Karikó and Prof. Weissman has led to the rapid availability of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, which has saved millions of lives
and become an important tool for the control of COVID-19 pandemic around the world.