Winners of the Paul Ehrlich Prize
The dramatic story of the married scientists who founded BioNTech and developed the first vaccine against COVID-19.
Nobody thought it was possible. In mid-January 2020, Ugur Sahin told Özlem Türeci, his wife and decades-long research partner, that a vaccine against what would soon be known as COVID-19 could be developed and safely injected into the arms of millions before the end of the year. His confidence was built upon almost thirty years of research. While working to revolutionize the way that cancerous tumors are treated, the couple had explored a volatile and overlooked molecule called messenger RNA; they believed it could be harnessed to redirect the immune system’s forces against any number of diseases. As the founders of BioNTech, they faced widespread skepticism from the scientific community at first; but by the time Sars-Cov-2 was discovered in Wuhan, China, BioNTech was prepared to deploy cutting edge technology and create the world’s first clinically approved inoculation for the coronavirus.
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