The Turkish Muslim Couple Behind the Pfizer Vaccine

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Uğur Şahin (Turkish: [u.ˈuɾ ʃɑ.ˈhin]; born 1965 in IskenderunTurkey) is a Germanimmunologist and physician of Turkish descent[1][2]. He is a professor of oncology at the University of Mainz and the chief executive and co-founder with his wife, Özlem Türeci, of biotech company BioNTech.[3][4][5][6] He and his spouse are among the hundred wealthiest people in Germany.[7]

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Şahin was born in Iskenderun, Turkey. When he was four years old his family immigrated to Germany, where his father worked in a Ford car factory.[8] He studied medicine at the University of Cologne, graduating in 1990, and obtained a PhD from the same university in 1993. Following an eight-year residency at the Saarland University Hospital, he joined the faculty of the University of Mainz in 2000, where he became a professor in 2006.[9]

In addition to his role as a professor and practicing physician at the University of Mainz Hospital, Şahin has founded or been involved in numerous companies over the course of his career. In 2001 he founded Ganymed Pharmaceuticals, which developed cancer immunotherapies[10] and was purchased by Astellas Pharma in 2016.[11] In 2019, Sahin was awarded the Mustafa Prize, a biennial Iranian prize for Muslims in science and technology.[12]

He married Özlem Türeci, who is also a German physician and immunologist of Turkish descent, in 2002. They have a daughter together.[2]


  1.  “The Husband-and-Wife Team Behind the Leading Vaccine to Solve Covid-19”The New York Times. Retrieved 2020-11-11.
  2. Jump up to:a b Oltermann, Philip (2020-11-09). “BioNTech’s Covid vaccine: a shot in the arm for Germany’s Turkish community”The GuardianISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  3. ^ “Covid vaccine: First ‘milestone’ vaccine offers 90% protection”. November 9, 2020 – via
  4. ^ “Leadership”BioNTech.
  5. ^ “Ugur Sahin (0000-0003-0363-1564)”
  6. ^ Vardi, Nathan. “Ugur Sahin Becomes A Billionaire On Hopes For Technology Behind COVID-19 Vaccine”Forbes.
  7. ^ Rudnick, Hendrikje (11 November 2020). “Von Gastarbeiter-Kindern zu Milliardären: Biontech-Chef Ugur Sahin und seine Frau Özlem Türeci gehören zu den 100 reichsten Deutschen”Business Insider (in German). Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  8. ^ Huggler, Justin. “German couple behind vaccine are immigrant success story”The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  9. ^ “CV Prof. Dr. med. Ugur Sahin”SFB 1399 Mechanisms of Drug Sensitivity and Resistance in Small Cell Lung Cancer.
  10. ^ “Astellas Completes Acquisition of Ganymed Pharmaceuticals” Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  11. ^ Wright, Rob (1 June 2020). “How One Professor Built Two Billion-Dollar Biotechs”Life Science Leader. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  12. ^ Gelles, David (2020-11-10). “The Husband-and-Wife Team Behind the Leading Vaccine to Solve Covid-19”The New York Times. Retrieved 2020-11-10.

2 replies

  1. Just to give more details: The husband of the Turkish scientist couple is reported to be of Turkish-Kurdish origin.

    His wife is reported to be of Turkish-Christian origin.

    Not that it really matters, of course. Just to give the complete information.

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