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The Technion announced the winners of the 2024 Harvey Prize: mRNA researchers whose research helped develop corona vaccines, and a theoretical physics researcher

The prestigious prize will be awarded to the developers of the corona vaccine Professors Katelyn Crico, Drew Weissman and Peter Callis and to Prof. Helen Quinn for solving one of the greatest mysteries in physics

The Harvey Prize, the most prestigious prize given by the Technion, will be awarded in the coming year in two areas: in the field of human health The award will be given to Professors Katelyn Crico and Drew Weissman from the University of Pennsylvania and Prof. Peter Kallis from the University of British Columbia, andin the field of science and technology It will be awarded to Prof. Emeritus Helen Quinn of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Awards for human health researchers

The researches of Professors Crico, Weissman and Kallis made possible the rapid development and the rapid supply of effective vaccines for Corona. Their scientific discoveries revolutionized the provision of effective and safe vaccines and led to the development of new types of drugs and genetic therapies that greatly contributed to human well-being.

Prof. Katlin Crico (courtesy of István Sahin-Tóth)
Prof. Katlin Crico (courtesy of István Sahin-Tóth)

Prof. Katelyn Crico She is a biochemist focusing on RNA biology. She completed her PhD at the University of Szeged in her native Hungary. For the past 24 years, she has been working at the University of Pennsylvania as a professor of neurosurgery. Prof. Crico became known for her persistence in working on mRNA in view of the refusal of the academic establishment in those days to recognize the potential in this field. For her groundbreaking work, she won many awards, including the Japan Prize, the Horwitz Prize, the Paul Ehrlich Prize, the Benjamin Franklin Medal, the Kovalenko Medal, the Tang Prize, the Warren Alpert Prize, and the Lasker-DeBakey Prize for Research in Clinical Medicine.

Prof. Drew Weissman He is an immunologist focusing on RNA biology. He completed his MD and PhD at Boston University. In 1977 he opened his laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, where he focused on RNA and vaccines. Today he is developing methods for replacing genetically damaged proteins, for editing the genome and for precise delivery of drugs to cells and organs based on RNA technologies. He has won many awards including the Rosenstiel Award, the Lasker-DeBakey Award for Research in Clinical Medicine and the VinFuture Award. Together with Prof. Crico, he was recognized for his pioneering work in the development of improved mRNA (nucleoside-modified mRNA), which leads to the suppression of the inflammatory response to mRNA molecules and paves the way for RNA-based treatments.

Prof. Peter Kallis from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of British Columbia led significant breakthroughs in the development of nanoscale medicine treatments using lipid nanoscale particles (LNP) for cancer treatment, gene therapy and vaccines. He developed nanometric lipid particles that protect the mRNA and transport it to the cells - a platform that was later used in RNA-based vaccines.

Prof. Kallis completed a doctorate in physics at the University of British Columbia, where he founded a laboratory under his leadership. He is a co-founder of two national networks of excellence in Canada - the Center for R&D of Medicines (now AdMare) and the Innovation Network in Nanometric Medicine. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and won many awards, including the Prince Mahidol Award, the Gairdner Award and the Tang Award. In 2023 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

A new symmetry in physics

Prof. Helen Quinn Engaged in theoretical physics. Together with the late Roberto Paci, she proposed a solution to one of the fundamental mysteries of physics: the fact that the strong force does not change under the exchange of particles and antiparticles combined with the mirroring of space. The explanation is based on a new symmetry - Pacey-Quinn symmetry. This symmetry may also explain the mystery of dark matter, which makes up most of the matter in the universe but whose identity is unknown. Pechee-Quinn symmetry predicts new particles called axions, which are characterized by exactly the properties needed to make up dark matter. Prof. Quinn also showed, along with Howard George and the late Steven Weinberg, that despite the differences in strengths of the strong, weak, and electromagnetic forces at low energies, they can arise from a single force at high energies, where their strengths converge. This discovery led to the theoretical framework known today as the "Great Unification Theory".

Prof. Quinn's discoveries broke new research paths in both theoretical and experimental physics, and are expected to lead to significant breakthroughs in understanding the basic structure of the universe.

Prof. Quinn received a PhD from Stanford University and was a professor of physics at SLAC and president of the American Physical Society. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States, and her list of awards includes the Dirac Medal, the Oscar Klein Medal, the Carl Taylor Compton Medal, the Benjamin Franklin Medal, and the Skorai Prize. Prof. Quinn also had a significant contribution to science education.

Peres is over 50 years old

Harvey Award, in the amount of 75,000 dollars, was founded in 1971 by Leo Harvey (1973-1887), an industrialist and inventor, a devoted friend of the Technion and the State of Israel and their loyal supporters. It is awarded by the Technion every year for exceptional achievements in science, technology and human health and for a significant contribution to humanity. Over the years, the prize became a "Nobel predictor" because more than 30% of its winners went on to win the Nobel Prize.

The prizes will be awarded to the four winners in June 2024 at a festive event that will take place during the session of the Courtorion, the Technion's board of trustees, which will be held to mark the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Technion's gates.

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