The 2022 Solvay Prize was awarded to Professor Katalin Karikó at a ceremony held at the Palais des Académies in Brussels on March 29

The Solvay Prize awards a single recipient with €300,000 for groundbreaking contributions to chemistry with potential industrial impact. It’s about rewarding risk takers and those who are truly reinventing scientific progress. Professor Karikó won the prize for her research, which led to the creation of the messenger RNA covid-19 vaccine. She found a way to use chemistry to modify the mRNA so that the immune system won’t reject it. And this is just the beginning: her research could also be applied to other diseases such as cancer, malaria, tuberculosis, and more.

“I am thrilled and honored by this recognition,” said Professor Karikó “I look back on my long journey with gratitude to all those who helped me to get there: my supportive family, my inspirational teachers, mentors and colleagues.”

“I’m delighted the 2022 Solvay Prize has gone to such a deserving winner - an inspiring scientist and a beautiful soul,” said Solvay CEO Ilham Kadri. “As the second woman to win this prize, my hope is that more girls and women will be attracted to STEM careers thanks to amazing role models like her.”

“People like Katalin represent a lot for all of us, and for our young generations.” said Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. “2022 is the European Year of Youth and we need new young people to embark in the journey of science. Young girls are called to address the persistent gender gap in science, in research and innovation. We have a lot of work ahead to reach gender equality in STEM fields. So I would like to thank Katalin for being such an inspirational role model.”

Bringing together the brightest scientific minds

This year Solvay is celebrating the 100th anniversary of our founder, Ernest Solvay’s first chemistry conference. Ernest was in the business of bringing people together to solve some of the world's most pressing challenges. His chemistry and physics conferences convened some of the brightest scientific minds, such as Albert Einstein, Henri Poincaré, Max Planck and Marie Curie to name a few. Ernest’s legacy continues as we had three Nobel Prize laureates join us to celebrate the winner: Professors Jean Marie Lehn, Steven Chu and Ben Feringa.

One of the highlights of the ceremony was a talk by Professor Chu on “Climate Change and the role of chemistry in creating a more sustainable future.” 

Professor Karikó received a long and heartfelt standing ovation after her talk.

Kariko lifting Solvay Prize during the 2022 ceremony

Professor Karikó also spoke about what winning the Solvay Prize means to her

Inspiring young scientists

Professor Karikó is not only changing the course of scientific research - she is also an inspiration for the next generation. After the ceremony, she presented her work to 30 young scientists and discussed the importance of chemistry in enabling a more sustainable future.

Professor Karikó

You can watch the replay of the ceremony here: