Capstan Therapeutics Co-Founder Drew Weissman, M.D., Ph.D., Awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for Enabling Rapid Development of RNA-based COVID-19 Vaccine

SAN DIEGO and PHILADELPHIA, October 2, 2023 – Capstan Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company dedicated to advancing in vivo reprogramming of cells through targeted lipid nanoparticles, today announced that the Company’s Co-Founder Drew Weissman, M.D., Ph.D., was awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discoveries in nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19. Dr. Weissman shares the award with his research collaborator of many years, Katalin Karikó, Ph.D., an adjunct professor of neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania.

“It has been a privilege to work with Dr. Weissman and our other collaborators on the founding technology for Capstan which was made possible by his many years of work on mRNA biology and delivery leading up to the Nobel Prize,” said Dr. Haig Aghajanian, Capstan Co-Founder and Vice President of Research. “It’s been so rewarding to work side-by-side with him.”

“All of the Capstaneers congratulate Dr. Weissman and Dr. Karikó on receiving the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their visionary research in unlocking the power of mRNA-based therapeutics,” said Dr. Laura Shawver, President and Chief Executive Officer of Capstan. “We share the world’s gratitude in their commitment to investigating this modality as a foundational tool in the pandemic response, which has set the stage for rapid development in not only infectious disease prevention, but potentially wide-ranging therapeutic applications across disease areas.”

Dr. Weissman and Dr. Karikó’s partnership spans nearly two decades, beginning with their groundbreaking study in 2005 proving that mRNA could be modified and delivered effectively into the body to initiate a protective immune response.

About Drew Weissman, M.D., Ph.D.
Drew Weissman, M.D., Ph.D., is the Roberts Family Professor in Vaccine Research, Director Penn Institute for RNA Innovation, and Director of Vaccine Research, Infectious Diseases Division in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Weissman, in collaboration with Dr. Katalin Karikó, discovered that modified nucleosides in RNA could suppress activation of innate immune sensors thereby resulting in increased mRNA translation. The nucleoside-modified mRNA-lipid nanoparticle vaccine platform created in Dr. Weissman’s lab is now being used in the first two FDA-approved mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines that were developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, and his lab is actively working to develop new mRNA–based vaccines that induce potent antibody and T cell responses.

About Capstan (
Capstan Therapeutics is a biotechnology company with a mission to multiply the therapeutic possibilities for patients by developing targeted in vivo RNA technologies. The core platform technology comprises proprietary targeted lipid nanoparticles (tLNPs) that are composed of LNPs conjugated with a recombinant protein binder, such as a monoclonal antibody. tLNPs are designed to deliver payloads, including mRNA or gene editing tools, capable of reprogramming specific cell types in vivo. The platform technology has the potential to generate transformative therapies with possible applications across a broad range of disease areas, including oncology, autoimmune disorders, fibrosis, and monogenic blood disorders. For more information, please visit and follow us on LinkedIn.

Miguel Arcinas
Vice President of Corporate Development
Capstan Therapeutics
[email protected]

Rhiannon Jeselonis
Ten Bridge Communications
[email protected] 

Back to News