World-renowed scientists received $4.5 million in VinFuture Prize

January 21, 2022 | 16:25
World-renowned scientists were honoured on January 20 with Vietnam's first international science award by Vingroup to recognise their outstanding contributions to science.
World-renowed scientists received $4.5 million in VinFuture Prize

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh congratulated the scientists Pieter Rutter Cullis, Drew Weissman, and Katalin Kariko who were awarded the VinFuture Grand Prize for their invention of mRNA vaccine technology

Pham Nhat Vuong, chairman of the Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup, and Pham Thu Huong, Vuong’s wife and vice chairwoman of Vingroup, founded the VinFuture Foundation, which awards the annual VinFuture Prize.

The prize aims to highlight world-changing scientific and technological breakthroughs.

Three scientists were given the $3-million VinFuture Grand Prize, namely Katalin Kariko, a Hungarian biochemist who specialises in RNA-mediated mechanisms, and her co-collaborators, Drew Weissman, a world-renowned physician and researcher, best known for his contributions to RNA biology, and Pieter Rutter Cullis, a Canadian physicist and biochemist.

The three scientists invented the modified mRNA technology used in Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccines to prevent COVID-19 infections.

World-renowed scientists received $4.5 million in VinFuture Prize
Pham Thu Huong and her husband, Pham Nhat Vuong (to her right)

Weissman expressed optimism that the award would pave the way for future generations of vaccines and that it would serve as a catalyst for collaboration among Southeast Asian nations, especially Vietnam.

On the other hand, Salim Abdool Karim, a clinical infectious diseases epidemiologist, and Quarraisha Abdool Karim, an infectious disease epidemiologist from South Africa, were given a VinFuture Prize worth $500,000 for their creation of a gel containing tenofovir, a medication used to prevent HIV infections in women.

Zhenan Bao from Stanford University was granted a VinFuture Prize for her research on electronic skin – a paper-thin, strong, and flexible material designed to mimic the functions of human skin.

Omar M. Yaghi, a scientist from the University of California, Berkeley, has been awarded a VinFuture Prize for his achievements in water and new material science.

The ceremony presented a total of $4.5 million in awards.

By Trung Duong

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