Medicine Nobel 2023 goes to duo who paved the way for mRNA COVID vaccines

Medicine Nobel 2023 goes to duo who paved the way for mRNA COVID vaccines


The 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been given to American physician-scientist Drew Weissman and Hungarian biochemist Katalin Karikó. The discovery of successful mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 was made possible by discoveries about nucleoside base modification, according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Science, which announced the recipients’ names on Monday.

What is the Nobel Prize?

  • Each year, the Nobel Prize is given to a person or group of people who have made a significant contribution to humanity. The prizes are awarded in the following fields: Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, Peace. 
  • The first Nobel Prizes were awarded on December 10, 1901, the fifth anniversary of the death of inventor Alfred Nobel. The prizes are given to men, women, and organizations. 
  • Each reward includes: 
    • a prize
    • a distinct diploma
    • cash prize

Who won the Nobel Prize in 2023 in the field of Medicine?

  • The recipients of the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine are Drew Weissman and Katalin Kariko. On October 2, 2023, the Royal Swedish Academy of Science revealed the prizewinners. 
  • Kariko and Weissman were honoured for their work on nucleoside base modifications that made it possible to create COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.

What is the significance of the discovery made by the duo?

  • The significance of mRNA vaccines in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic is acknowledged in the Nobel Prize citation. An innovative technology that swiftly responded to the world crisis by displaying its promise to fight infectious illnesses was the mRNA vaccine.

What is mRNA and what are its functions?

  • A single-stranded RNA called messenger RNA (mRNA) transports genetic information from DNA to ribosomes. 
  •  Proteins are created via the translation of mRNA. 
  •  In a cell’s nucleus, transcription produces the mRNA. 
  •  The mRNA moves from a cell’s cytoplasm to the ribosomes. 
  •  According to the genetic code, the ribosomes construct the right amino acids by reading the nucleotides in the mRNA. These amino acids combine to form a polypeptide chain, which eventually transforms into a protein. 
  • The recipe or instructions that tell the cells how to use their machinery to build a protein are found in the mRNA. The amino acid sequence in the protein that is generated is determined by the coding sequence of the mRNA. 
  • The function of mRNA is to transport protein information from DNA in a cell’s nucleus to the cytoplasm, or aqueous interior, where the machinery responsible for creating proteins reads the mRNA sequence and converts each three-base codon into an amino acid that belongs in a protein chain that is expanding.

What is the role of mRNA in battling Covid 19?

  • As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe in 2020, mRNA vaccinations became a vital tool in lowering the pandemic’s death toll. 
  • These vaccines, including those created by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, were built using the science and research that Drs. Karikó and Weissman helped to pioneer.


As a whole, the Nobel Prize given to Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman emphasizes the groundbreaking significance of their work on mRNA vaccines, not just in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic but also in the larger context of medical research and vaccine development. Their work has created new avenues for using mRNA-based methods to treat a variety of ailments.