Several scientists were recently acknowledged and appreciated for their contributions to humanity. Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, both from the University of Pennsylvania, received two of the five $3 million Breakthrough Prizes for making a breakthrough discovery in messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine research that has saved millions of lives. They discovered a way to bypass an unwanted cellular immune response that made previous mRNA vaccines unfeasible. Karikó hopes to funnel the prize money back into future mRNA research so further advances may be made in other fields. “I am happy to be one of the people who has contributed to this [vaccine], but it is mind-boggling how many advances needed to be made over the decades, in many fields,” says Karikó. Other winners include those who invented a technique allowing for parallel DNA fragment reading, speeding up sequencing by 10 million times. Another award was for a scientist who invented the optical lattice clock, improving time measurements by 10,000 times.

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