Meet the married couple behind Pfizer’s COVID vaccine

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Senate races in Georgia lead Republicans to back President Trump’s refusal to concede the election, Ulta Beauty partners with Target, and we meet the couple that spearheaded Pfizer’s COVID vaccine. Have a good Wednesday.

– The science of relationships. If you, like me, are in awe of couples who manage to maintain their relationships while working together, just imagine what it must be like not just to start a company with your significant other—but to develop a vaccine together in the midst of a pandemic.

That’s how Drs. Özlem Türeci and Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s chief medical officer and CEO, respectively, spent much of 2020.

Understandably, many of us who read Monday’s news that Pfizer had reported early data that its COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective may have missed that fact that the pharma giant’s vaccine was developed in partnership with the couple and their company, BioNTech, which is based in Germany.

Türeci and Sahin, who are both of Turkish descent (Sahin was born there), balanced the effort, called Project Lightspeed, with caring for their teenage daughter. Perhaps this all-encompassing world of science and family is second nature for them; several stories note that the pair went back to their lab on their wedding day. Their partnership also seems to buttress the idea that a company’s commitment to gender diversity starts at the top: Deutsche Welle reports that more than half of BioNTech’s employees are female.

Kristen Bellstrom
[email protected]

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

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