Katalin Karikó shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine this week for her work on mRNA vaccines that were instrumental in fighting COVID-19.
In 1995, her research was not showing results, and UPenn gave her the choice to quit or be demoted (she chose demotion).
In 2005, she wrote her breakthrough paper on RNA. But not many noticed at the time.
Karikó has been at the helm of BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine development. In 2013, she accepted an offer to become Senior Vice President at BioNTech after UPenn refused to reinstate her to the faculty position she had been demoted from in 1995. “They told me that they’d had a meeting and concluded that I was not of faculty quality,” she said. ”When I told them I was leaving, they laughed at me and said, ‘BioNTech doesn’t even have a website.’ -- Wired
It's reasonable to look at her story and think about timing and luck. But it's also a great reminder to keep going. The world is changing so fast that there are countless opportunities for us to be early or late on. And for many of those, we are both. So, we might as well keep going.