When researcher Katalin Karikó was named a Nobel Prize winner for physiology or medicine early this month (along with Drew Weissman), it wasn't just her work in mRNA research — leading to the COVID-19 vaccine — that made news stories. News coverage also noted her insistence on pushing forward with her ideas even when told her work wasn't valuable enough, leading to four demotions at the University of Pennsylvania before she left the faculty.
But even before the Nobel honor, Karikó had won recognition from the materials industry.
In 2022, she received the Solvay Prize, a global award for major scientific discoveries with the potential to shape tomorrow's chemistry and help human progress, sponsored by plastics supplier and chemical company Solvay SA.
"I think about all of the chemistry I learned and all of the teachers who showed me the beauty of chemistry," Karikó said in a video posted on Solvay's website.
"I was successful even 20 or 30 years ago when nobody recognized me and nobody gave me a prize. I was very happy without any prize because the real success is in the day after day, solving problems in the laboratory and getting a solution," she said.
Karikó was the second woman to win the Solvay Prize. The first woman to win it, Carolyn Bertozzi, a chemistry professor at Stanford, also has a Nobel. She won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2022 and the Solvay Prize in 2020.