Libri Literary Prize to Katalin Karikó#

Katalin Karikó, member of the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology section of Academia Europaea and Nobel Prize Laureate 2023, received the prestigious Libri Literary Prize for her brilliant memoirs “Breaking Through: My life in Science” which became a bestseller in the non-fiction category.

Katalin Karikó's autobiography was published by Crown Publishing Group on 10 October, 2023, a few days after she won the Nobel Prize. The book became the best-selling non-fiction book in Hungary in 2023, and was awarded the Libri Literary Prize in June 2024. At the present moment, the book has been translated into 9 languages.

In a statement on X (Twitter), Prof. Kariko expressed her hopes that the book will inspire the new generation of scientists to live happy and productive lives.

About the book#

A story of perseverance and the power of convictions from the groundbreaking immigrant scientist whose decades-long research led to the COVID-19 vaccines, hailed as “an inspiration” by Bill Gates.

Katalin Karikó had an unlikely journey. The daughter of a butcher in postwar communist Hungary, Karikó grew up in a one-room home that lacked running water, and her family grew their own vegetables. She saw the wonders of nature all around her and was determined to become a scientist. That determination eventually brought her to the United States, where she arrived as a postdoctoral fellow in 1985 with $1,200 sewn into her toddler’s teddy bear and a dream to remake medicine.

Karikó worked in obscurity, battled cockroaches in a windowless lab, and faced outright derision and even deportation threats from her bosses and colleagues. She balked as prestigious research institutions increasingly conflated science and money. Despite setbacks, she never wavered in her belief that an ephemeral and underappreciated molecule called messenger RNA could change the world. Karikó believed that someday mRNA would transform ordinary cells into tiny factories capable of producing their own medicines on demand. She sacrificed nearly everything for this dream, but the obstacles she faced only motivated her, and eventually she succeeded.

Karikó’s three-decades-long investigation into mRNA would lead to a staggering vaccines that protected millions of people from the most dire consequences of COVID-19. These vaccines are just the beginning of mRNA’s potential. Today, the medical community eagerly awaits more mRNA vaccines—for the flu, HIV, and other emerging infectious diseases.

Breaking Through isn’t just the story of an extraordinary woman—it’s an indictment of closed-minded thinking and a testament to one woman’s commitment to laboring intensely in obscurity—knowing she might never be recognized in a culture that is more driven by prestige, power, and privilege—because she believed her work would save lives.

Publication date: 2023
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
ISBN-10: ‎ 0593443160
ISBN-13: ‎ 978-0593443163

Read an article about the book in The Guardian.

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