Penn Medicine’s Drew Weissman and Katalin Karikó won a Nobel Prize for their pioneering mRNA research, which led to the development of highly effective COVID-19 vaccines. This is just the beginning of RNA innovation. RNA therapeutics also have the potential to treat a wide range of other diseases including malaria, Lyme disease, heart disease, and even future flu pandemics.
To continue the development of RNA technology, Penn launched the Penn Institute for RNA Innovation, co-directed by Weissman, MD, PhD, the Roberts Family Professor in Vaccine Research, and James Hoxie, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, at One uCity Square. The Institute serves as a home base for RNA researchers working in biology, chemistry, immunology, modeling, vaccines, oncology, genetic diseases, and bioengineering to collaborate.
During the opening celebration for the Institute, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, Penn President Liz Magill, and about 100 others from the University and Penn Medicine communities attended. Weissman said the Institute was already collaborating with over 250 labs across the country and world, and they plan to collaborate with a total of 500 by next year.
“One of our great strategic advantages is our compact and contiguous campus, where 12 amazing schools and a world-class health system coexist just a short walk from one another,” said Magill, as per Penn Today. “Strengthening this advantage for Penn, advantage for research, for education, for service to the wider world, is one of my highest priorities for our future at Penn. We will make this University even more tightly interwoven and, in doing so, even more creative and inventive. The Institute for RNA Innovation exemplifies this so well.”
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