January 27 2022: Pune-born Mihir Metkar is the “first named” inventor of the Moderna Covid vaccine that is widely used in USA and Europe. Dr Metkar, a Senior Scientist at the Cambridge (Massachusetts, US) labs of Moderna has been credited by the company as being the key contributor to the patent for development of the vaccine whose formal name is SARS-CoV-2-mRNA.
In the paper published by the team in the reputed science journal, Nature, in August 2020 describing the invention and in three other papers between 2018 and 2021, Metkar is one of the co-authors.
A molecular biologist and bioinformatician with over seven years of experience, Metkar worked as a PhD candidate at the RNA Therapeutics Institute at University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), where he developed a novel technique to study the higher ordered organization of spliced ribonucleoprotein (RNP)… knowledge which he ploughed into work at Moderna to develop Messenger RNA (mRNA)-type vaccines which teach our cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response inside our bodies.
Before he moved to the US to do doctoral research at UMMS), Metkar obtained an MSc at the Institute of Bioinformatics and Biotechnology of Pune University and worked briefly at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER).
The Moderna vaccine is one of three vaccines approved for use in the US. The other two are from Pfizer and Johnson&Johnson.