Virtual Event | December 7-9
All pre-recorded video content is available to watch below.
2021 Award Winners
Honoring outstanding achievement in the fields of innovation, creativity, and IP rights.
Dr. Katalin Karikó, Senior Vice President RNA Protein Replacement Therapies, BioNTechRead Bio
Dr. Katalin Karikó, Senior Vice President RNA Protein Replacement Therapies, BioNTech
Katalin Karikó works at BioNTech from 2013. Prior to that, she worked at the University of Pennsylvania for 24 years. She received her PhD in biochemistry from University of Szeged, Hungary, in 1982. Her thesis work involved synthesis and antiviral evaluation of short 2’-5’-linked oligonucleotides. For decades, her research has been focusing on RNA-mediated mechanisms with the ultimate goal of developing in vitro-transcribed mRNA for protein therapy. She investigated RNA-mediated immune activation and co-discovered that nucleoside modifications suppress immunogenicity of RNA. This groundbreaking work unlocked the opportunity for the therapeutic use of mRNA. Her patent, co-invented on nucleoside-modified uridines of mRNA, was the foundation for the FDA-approved COVID-19 mRNA vaccines developed by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna/NIH.
Dr. Ugur Sahin, Co-Founder and CEO, BioNTechRead Bio
Dr. Ugur Sahin, Co-Founder and CEO, BioNTech
Prof. Ugur Sahin, M.D., is a physician, immunologist and leader in the development of novel approaches to fight cancer and infectious diseases. Sahin is one of the world’s foremost experts on messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) medicines. He has pioneered several breakthroughs enabling the development of mRNA vaccines and other types of immunotherapies. Sahin initiated and oversees “Project Lightspeed,” the historic development of the first mRNA vaccine for COVID-19, moving from lab and clinical testing to conditional approval within an unprecedented 11-month period. He also leads BioNTech’s research and development of neoantigen specific mRNA cancer vaccines which are individually tailored and produced on demand according to the profile of non-synonymous mutations identified by next-generation sequencing in patients’ tumors. Ugur Sahin is co-inventor of more than 500 filed patent applications and patents.
Dr. Özlem Türeci, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer, BioNTechRead Bio
Dr. Özlem Türeci, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer, BioNTech
Özlem Türeci, M.D. is a physician, immunologist, and cancer researcher with translational and clinical experience. Türeci has helped lead the discovery of cancer antigens, the development of mRNA-based individualized and off-the-shelf vaccine candidates and other types of immunotherapies which are currently in clinical development. Türeci leads the clinical development of BioNTech’s “Project Lightspeed,” the company’s successful effort to develop and distribute an mRNA-based vaccine against COVID-19, a historic achievement completed in less than one year.
Dr. Drew Weissman, Professor of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of PennsylvaniaRead Bio
Dr. Drew Weissman, Professor of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Weissman’s laboratory focuses on the study of RNA and innate immune system biology and the application of these findings to vaccine research and gene therapy. There are three main projects in his laboratory. The first project began through the use of mRNA encoding antigen as a delivery system to load dendritic cells to promote broad immune responses as part of a vaccine. This project has expanded to include basic studies of RNA immunogenicity and translation and the development of applications for gene therapy. The second project develops new HIV envelope immunogens that can induce broad responses and cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies. The third project continues previous studies that identified a protein found on DC, macrophages, and epithelial cells that binds HIV envelope with high affinity. The main focus of this project is testing whether this and related molecules function in vivo to promote HIV genital tract infection.
Dr. Lisa Cook, Professor of Economics and International Relations, Michigan State UniversityRead Bio
Dr. Lisa Cook, Professor of Economics and International Relations, Michigan State University
Dr. Lisa Cook was the first Marshall Scholar from Spelman College and received a second B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford University. She earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley with fields in macroeconomics and international economics. Among her current research interests are economic growth and development, innovation, financial institutions and markets, and economic history. Dr. Cook is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and is the author of a number of published articles, book chapters, and working papers. She is on the Board of Editors of the Journal of Economic Literature, and her research has appeared in such journals as the American Economic Review and the Journal of Economic Growth.
Ivan Fong, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal and Policy Office and Secretary, 3M CompanyRead Bio
Ivan Fong, Executive Vice President, Chief Legal and Policy Office and Secretary, 3M Company
An engineer-turned-attorney, Ivan Fong appreciates being able to bring a diverse background to a company like 3M. He has worked at 3M for more than seven years and leads the company’s more than 550 Legal Affairs employees, including the government affairs, compliance, security and data teams. Before joining 3M in 2012, Ivan was general counsel for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where he advised senior national security officials and led 1,800 lawyers. He has also served as chief legal officer and secretary of Cardinal Health Inc., where he was named one of the “Twenty Most Influential General Counsel” by the National Law Journal.