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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Laureates  

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Katalin Karikó, Drew Weissman, Philip Felgner, Uğur Şahin, Özlem Türeci, Derrick Rossi and Sarah Gilbert

Princess of Asturias Award for Technical & Scientific Research 2021

Speech by Ms. Katalin Karikó

Your Majesties,
Your Royal Highnesses,
Your Excellencies,
Fellow Laureates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honor to receive the Princess of Asturias award in such incredible company. We appreciate that this prize will shed light on the importance of scientific research.

We spent years working on technologies that seemed unconventional and almost science fiction to some, but we shared an immense belief that if the result of our work could improve the life of at least one person, then we have succeeded. It is such a relief to know that by now, the vaccines successfully protected millions of people from the serious effects of COVID-19.

Working at the bench in the laboratory, I only dreamed of having such an impact. We are grateful for the Princess Asturias award, but we are just representatives of the hundreds of other scientists, doctors and experts who over the last few decades helped build the foundation for our work. The path of scientific discoveries is never a straight line, it has twists and turns at every juncture and requires international collaborative efforts and contribution from many scientists.

But it is important to keep asking questions and stay curious. Leonardo da Vinci claimed that “Experiments never err, your expectations do,” We were not deterred by failure, but instead used it to push us to think critically.

We also stand here today grateful to all of the frontline healthcare workers. It is not lost upon us the incredible risks that they were willing to take to save patients, some giving the ultimate sacrifice to help others. They inspired us to work harder and spring to action to make life-saving vaccines. The possibilities for the technologies are endless, we are already exploring ways to prevent HIV, malaria, reduce cancers, and treat many other diseases. We know, the patients are waiting.

Thank you again for this incredible award. Our hope now is to inspire the next generation of scientists, doctors, and medical workers. Stay curious, ask questions, and stay on track no matter how winding the road ahead may be.

I am honored to receive the Princess of Asturias distinguished prize together with my fellow scientists.

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