Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne

PD Dr. Özlem Türeci and Prof. Dr. Ugur Sahin: Entry in the Golden Book and Honorary Doctorate from the Faculty of Medicine


On Sept. 17, 2021, PD Dr. Özlem Türeci and Prof. Dr. Uğur Şahin, the founders of the biotech company BioNTech and developer of the first approved mRNA-based Corona vaccine were honored in the Historic City Hall of the City Cologne. They signed the Golden Book of the City of Cologne and the University of Cologne and were awarded with the Honorary Doctorates from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Cologne.

Priv.-Doz. Dr. Dr. h.c. Özlem Türeci (at the front) Univ.-Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Ugur Sahin, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Gereon Fink, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Axel Freimuth (von left to right). Foto credit: FotomedizinKöln

Mayor Henriette Reker thanked Özlem Türeci and Uğur Şahin for "saving people countless months and years of suffering, trauma and loss through the vaccine and saving millions of people worldwide from death." She noted, "Your search for the appropriate vaccine against coronavirus has certainly cost you countless hours of research and work, as well as an almost endless amount of hardship and discipline. The greatest acknowledgement will be the feeling of having saved - with the vaccine - the world and the people who owe their lives to you from death and suffering. This is a feeling that not many people on this earth can share with you. I thank you for your irreplaceable service to people, for your service to humanity."

Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Axel Freimuth, Rector of the University of Cologne, emphasized, "As Rector of the University of Cologne, I have the privilege of welcoming around 7,000 new students to their alma mater each year. Over 50,000 are enrolled, including nearly 4,000 at the medical faculty. For all these junior developing scientists, you two are role models. For that, I would like to thank you today on behalf of the university."

Professor Dr. Gereon R. Fink, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Cologne, emphasized, "The research couple Dr. Özlem Türeci and Prof. Dr. Uğur Şahin made medical history with the development of the first approved messenger RNA-based Corona vaccine. The worldwide use of this vaccine made a decisive difference in the course of the pandemic. Therefore, it gives me great pleasure to confer the Honorary Doctorate of Medicine to both of you. Uğur Şahin studied here in Cologne at the Faculty of Medicine and received his doctorate with distinction. He is closely associated with us through many scientific projects and collaboration. He and his wife are among the pioneers worldwide in the development of mRNA vaccines, an area of research that will open up entirely new avenues in medicine in the future to combat other viruses, as well as AIDS and cancer."

Uğur Şahin said, "For us, Cologne stands for tradition paired with innovation as well as for joie de vivre and cosmopolitanism. For me, a place associated with wonderful memories of my youth, friends, teachers and colleagues. A place that has inspired and shaped me." Özlem Türeci added, "As a university city with over 100,000 students, the City of Cologne represents what is important for us: education, research, medicine and innovation. We thank the City of Cologne for this special honor."

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