Tributaries of the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and lessons learned

RNA. 2024 Jan 16;30(2):101-104. doi: 10.1261/rna.079874.123.


Almost without exception, scientific breakthroughs are not epistemological orphans. Historians of science have developed a body of scholarship on this, and the cases arising in our era continue to confirm the phenomenon. The work by Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman that proved foundational for the subsequent development of mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 had its antecedent roots yet is also a striking example of both serendipity and their persistence. Their receipt of the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was greatly deserved and, as Alfred Nobel likely envisioned the broad impact to be for all the prizes, affirms to the public at large that there is such a thing as the scientific method, and that there are such things as facts. The importance of society recognizing this has always been critically important, perhaps never more so than now.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Vaccines*
  • Humans
  • Nobel Prize*
  • Plant Roots


  • COVID-19 Vaccines