Making a difference around the world

Already, more than 10 billion COVID-19 vaccines have been administered throughout the world. And all of those vaccines can be traced back to one man who led to its discovery: UC Irvine professor Philip Felgner, who spent 35 years developing the technology used to build the vaccine.

“We envisioned the technology that we were working on could do something like this,” says Felgner, one of seven scholars recently honored for their contribution to the COVID-19 vaccine.

In the 1980s, Felgner developed a breakthrough technology that used lipid nanoparticles to deliver DNA to cells. His findings led to the development of DNA vaccines and later RNA vaccines, now used to prevent COVID-19. (mRNA stands for messenger RNA.)

Felgner, who holds 50 U.S. patents, directs UCI’s Vaccine Research and Development Center, which recently developed a low-cost COVID-19 blood test capable of delivering results within 10 minutes.