The IVI-SK bioscience Park MahnHoon Award annually honors up to two international individuals and organizations that made extraordinary contributions to the discovery, development and delivery of vaccines and advancement of global health. The award has been launched to commemorate the legacy of the late Vice Chairman Dr. Park MahnHoon of SK bioscience. The award ceremony is scheduled to take place at IVI on April 25, the first anniversary of Dr. Park’s passing. SK bioscience contributes funding for two 100 million Korean won (approx. $85,000 USD) annual prizes to IVI for the awards.
“IVI joins SK bioscience and the global vaccine community in congratulating Dr. Tore Godal and Profs. Drew Weissman and Katalin Karikó as the recipients of the first IVI-SKBS Park MahnHoon Award,” said Dr. Jerome Kim, Director General of IVI and Chair of the Award Selection Committee. “These three vaccine pioneers have advanced global public health by accelerating the delivery of vaccines in low-income countries, and the science of vaccines by developing a pivotal technology that led to the development of the world’s first mRNA vaccines against COVID-19, helping save millions of lives worldwide.”
Dr. Godal, MD, PhD, served as founding CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance from 1999-2004, when it earned $750 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation towards vaccination programs for children living in poverty. Through the alliance, more than 888 million children were vaccinated from 2000 to 2020. WHO and UNICEF estimate that Gavi has helped save more than 15 million lives. Dr. Godal also played a crucial role in the widespread introduction of mosquito nets, an initiative that has helped prevent millions of deaths from malaria. He continues his endeavors to accelerate the development and delivery of vaccines, currently serving as an advisor to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI), which he also helped create. CEPI has played a pivotal role in the accelerated development of vaccines against pandemic diseases including COVID-19. He was the 2019 winner of Norwegian King’s Medal of Merit and a co-winner (public health) of the 1999 Prince Mahidol Award.
Prof. Drew Weissman, a physician and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, is recognized for his contributions to RNA biology and the COVID-19 vaccines. He and his colleague Prof. Katalin Karikó jointly invented the modified mRNA technology being used in vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna to protect against COVID-19. Profs. Weissman and Karikó, a biochemist and Senior Vice President at BioNTech and an adjunct professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania, discovered a way to modify mRNA and then developed a delivery technique to package the mRNA in fat droplets (called lipid nanoparticles). These laboratory breakthroughs make it possible for mRNA to reach the proper part of the body and trigger the body’s immune system to fight disease. This innovation made mRNA safe, effective, and practical for use, establishing a foundation for two SARS-CoV-2 vaccines that have led the world’s fight against the pandemic virus. They are the co-winners of the 2022 Benjamin Franklin Medal in life sciences, the 2022 Breakthrough Prize in life sciences, and the 2022 Japan Prize.
SK bioscience CEO Ahn Jae-yong said, “SK bioscience is trying to contribute to overcoming the pandemic through the development of Korea’s first recombinant protein-based COVID-19 vaccine and global C(D)MO business of COVID-19 vaccines with the aim of protecting global public health. Inheriting the spirit of the late Vice Chairman Park MahnHoon, who made tremendous contributions to global health by leading the development of innovative vaccines including the joint development of a typhoid vaccine with IVI, we will faithfully fulfill our mandate to ensure the development and sufficient supply of vaccines.”
About the International Vaccine Institute (IVI)
The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) is a nonprofit inter-governmental organization established in 1997 at the initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). IVI has 37 countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) on its treaty, including the Republic of Korea, Sweden, India, and Finland as state funders.
Our mandate is to make vaccines available and accessible for the world’s most vulnerable people. We focus on infectious diseases of global health importance such as cholera, typhoid, shigella, salmonella, schistosomiasis, chikungunya, group A strep, Hepatitis A, HPV, TB, HIV, MERS, COVID-19, as well as antimicrobial resistance. For more information, please visit https://www.ivi.int.
About Dr. Park MahnHoon, the late former Vice Chairman of SK bioscience
Dr. Park MahnHoon (1957-2021) is a pioneer of cell culture-based vaccines in South Korea who made important contributions to vaccines for global health. Dr. Park is credited for elevating South Korea’s vaccine R&D capabilities up to global standard while leading the company’s vaccine projects, including the joint development of an innovative pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) with SANOFI-Pasteur, and the development of a novel typhoid conjugate vaccine in collaboration with the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation When licensed, these vaccines are expected to make significant impact in improving the health of people around the world including in low- and middle-income countries. As a visionary of the vaccine industry, Dr. Park played a pivotal role in the development and commercialization of the world’s first cell culture-based influenza vaccine (2015), and the development of a pneumococcal vaccine (2016) and the world’s second shingles vaccine (2017). Core technologies for SK bioscience’s own COVID-19 vaccine candidate, GBP510 and CMO production of COVID-19 vaccines developed by global biopharmaceutical companies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic largely derive from the cell culture-based vaccine technology established by Dr. Park.