Our COVID-19 Vaccines Would Not Exist Without this Unsung Princeton Technology

Aug. 29, 2022

It might not look like much — a plastic box that fits in the hand, with tiny tubes jutting out the top and bottom. Too simple to be cutting edge. Too humble to save so many lives.

But for 20 years, researchers in Robert Prud’homme’s lab have fine-tuned this little box that has revolutionized drug manufacturing, enabling everything from mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines to malaria drugs. The life-saving molecules that treat those diseases are fragile, and they must survive an epic voyage from a lab bench, through the supply chain, into a blood cell. Encapsulation gives them a secure vehicle and a final heading. It’s a delicate craft backed by complex mathematics, and over the arc of his career, Prud’homme has become a master craftsman.

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