Return to Transcripts main page
Interview with The London Ukrainian Review Editor Sasha Dovzhyk; Interview with PEN American CEO Suzanne Nossel; Interview with Nobel Prize in Medicine Winner Katalin Kariko. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired November 10, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Strikes reported near hospitals in Northern Gaza. Correspondent Jomana Karadsheh on the fears of patients and medics.
Then, out of the spotlight, but grinding on, Russia's war on Ukraine. I'll speak to Sasha Dovzhyk, editor of London Ukrainian Review.
And ahead, jailed Iranian human rights activist, Narges Mohammadi, ends her hunger strike, but her struggle continues. CEO of Pan America, Suzanne
Nossel, joins me.
Plus, breaking through my life in science. Hari Sreenivasan speaks to Nobel Prize winner, Katalin Kariko, about her new memoir. And groundbreaking
research into mRNA technology.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the program. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.
A never-ending humanitarian nightmare. That's how the U.N. secretary- general describes the current situation in Gaza as tens of thousands of people flee south. The IDF today allowed another evacuation corridor for
six hours and agreed to continue daily pauses in areas of Northern Gaza, according to the White House.
Even the U.S., Israel's staunchest ally, denounced the civilian death toll. Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying, "Far too many Palestinians have
Hospitals are again the focus of concern as fighting intensifies. Strikes were reported in the vicinity of several in Northern Gaza, and the director
of a medical center said the facility was completely surrounded by tanks.
Israel's military has not commented on the strikes, but accuses Hamas of embedding itself in civilian infrastructure. Correspondent Jomana Karadsheh
has this report. And a warning, it contains video that is difficult and disturbing to watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Night 34 of this war brought hell to Gaza's hospitals. Death so close for these medics outside
Al-Awda Hospital, they recited their final prayers. The hospital says several were injured in these strikes and two ambulances were completely
It was one of several hospitals struck in what was a night of horror for those sheltering at medical facilities in Northern Gaza.
And on Friday, more heartache came with these devastating scenes at a Shifa hospital complex. The haunting screams of those who survived this blast,
dazed, confused, searching for loved ones amongst the dead and injured. Images that infuriated humanitarians like Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert,
who volunteered at a Shifa in the past.
MADS GILBERT, NORWEGIAN PHYSICIAN, FORMER VOLUNTEER AT THE SHIFA HOSPITAL: President Biden, Mr. Blinken, can you hear me? prime ministers and
presidents of the European countries, can you hear me? Can you hear the screams from Shifa Hospital? From Al-Awda Hospital? Can you hear the
screams from innocent people? Refugees sheltering, trying to find a safe place, being bombed by the Israeli attack forces, hospitals that are the
temples of humanity and protection.
KARADSHEH (voiceover): But this is a war with no red lines and hospitals are no sanctuary for the tens of thousands crammed into these hospitals,
desperate to be protected from a war like no other Gaza has ever seen.
For weeks, the Israeli military has been calling on civilians to move south to get out of harm's way, they say, but so many have been reluctant to heed
these calls. Airstrikes and death have followed Gazans to the south. Nowhere is safe in this besieged territory.
But as the Israeli military opened up a humanitarian corridor amid intense fighting in the north, tens of thousands had no choice but to run in scenes
that evoke dark memories for Palestinians of an exodus from decades past, one from which there has been no return.
But not everyone can leave. The fighting has trapped some of the most vulnerable at two pediatric hospitals where hundreds are sheltering and
doctors are calling on the ICRC to evacuate them. Israeli troops are right outside (INAUDIBLE) hospitals.
The hospital is surrounded by Israeli tanks from all directions, this young woman says. We were asked to evacuate now. She and others with this cry for
international protection and a safe passage out.
Back inside a Shifa, there's no stopping, no pauses for those on a mission to save lives. A father anxiously looks to doctors for good news only to be
told his little boy is gone.
Never have Gazans felt so abandoned. Alone in this land of death and despair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Jomana Karadsheh reporting there. We thank her for that.
Well, reporter Nada Bashir joins us from Jerusalem. And Nada, there are no words when you see a father in anguish like that, crying over news that his
son has died. What more are we learning about the aftermath of these strikes on the hospitals?
NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, as you saw there, Bianna, in Jomana's reporting, the videos, the testimonies that are emerging from the Al Shifa
Hospital are horrifying to say the least. Once again, we are hearing testimonies of civilians being impacted in this latest strike. Eyewitnesses
accusing the Israel Defense Forces of carrying out an airstrike on the vicinity of this hospital in the outpatient clinic. No comment just yet
from the IDF on that strike.
But as you saw there, this is really something that the doctors, the medics, the humanitarians on the ground have been warning about for weeks
now, as we have seen airstrikes edging closer and closer to Gaza's hospitals. Al Shifa is the largest in Gaza.
And it's not just patients, it's not just healthcare workers in the hospital that are impacted, but of course, the hundreds of civilians who
have taken to hospitals like Al Shifa, thousands rather, taking shelter around these hospitals, hoping that these hospitals will remain a safe
haven, a sanctuary amid these relentless airstrikes. And yet, what we are seeing day after day is these airstrikes or strikes rather edging closer to
these hospitals that are at the brink of collapse, as we have heard from humanitarians on the ground.
We have heard in the last hour or so from the U.N.'s relief chief, Martin Griffiths, he's spoken about the situation at Al Shifa. I'll just read you
a quick bit from his statement saying, horrific reports of attacks on Al Shifa hospital coming out of Gaza today. The lives of thousands of
patients, staff and displaced civilians are at risk. Under international humanitarian law, hospitals must be protected. Acts of war in places of
grace must stop. Indeed, they must never happen.
We have heard from the International Committee of the Red Cross issuing a statement on the situation facing Gaza's hospitals saying that they are
overstretched, the situation is not safe, they are reaching the point of no return. And as we know, the vast majority of Gaza's hospitals are now out
of service at Al Shifa. Several operating rooms have already been closed.
And as we know, there have been strikes around other hospitals as well. As you saw in Jomana's reporting, the Al-Awda Hospital among them, at least 10
injured there. We have heard, of course, from a children's hospital in Gaza, the medical officials, they're saying that they have been surrounded
now as ground fighting continues. They have appealed to the Red Cross to facilitate the evacuation of patients and civilians from this hospital.
But as we know, as these airstrikes continue in the north, while there have been these pauses, humanitarian pauses established, it is very difficult
for many people to evacuate from Northern Gaza southwest, particularly the elderly, particularly hospital patients who are not able to leave these
And, of course, as we know, these airstrikes have continued in Central Gaza, Gaza and Southern Gaza. And while the IDF says it is targeting Hamas
targets, as we have seen repeatedly over four weeks now, more than four weeks now, civilian areas are indeed still coming under attack, including
U.N. Run schools, including refugee camps, including hospitals and medical facilities.
And as we've heard those warnings from the U.N.'s humanitarian chief today, there is, it seems, nowhere safe for civilians in Gaza to turn.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. And the IDF has been saying that Hamas has throughout all of this embedded itself in hospitals, though we should note the IDF has not
responded to requests for news to these specific attacks, most recent strikes on these hospitals.
Nada, while I have you, we heard some of the harshest words from the U.S. not calling for a ceasefire. But Secretary of State Blinken saying that far
too many Palestinians have been killed, Palestinian civilians, Palestinian civilians. How is that being received in Israel?
BASHIR: Well, yes, we have heard those strong words from Secretary Blinken, far too many Palestinians killed. He said, far too many
Palestinians have suffered in the last few weeks, according to Secretary Blinken. It's certainly is a subtle shift in U.S. position, though, it is
important to note that the U.S. still has expressed its steadfast support and solidarity with the Israeli government, with the Israeli people.
But what we are seeing is a shift. Secretary Blinken saying today that more can and should be done to minimize civilian deaths, to protect civilian
lives, that there are ongoing discussions between the U.S. and counterparts in Israel on concrete steps that can be taken to ensure that civilian
deaths are minimized, but also to ensure that humanitarian assistance is able to get in as well.
And we've heard commitments from the U.S. now with regards to the situation in Gaza, with regards to the potential for a post-conflict governance in
Gaza. We've heard, of course, earlier in the week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials indicating, signaling, that Israel
would seek to establish overall security responsibility over Gaza once the war is over. And of course, that has been characterized by the U.S. earlier
in the week as a mistake.
Secretary Blinken today reiterating the U.S.' commitment to not only the -- against the displacement of Palestinians from the land, but also
reiterating the U.S.' commitment for Palestinian governance, unified Palestinian governance in the future over both Gaza and the West Bank.
GOLODRYGA: Unified under the leadership of the Palestinian Authority is where the U.S. stands right now. Nada Bashir, thank you so much. Live for
us from Jerusalem.
Well, this week, hundreds of foreign nationals escaped Gaza into Egypt, among them nearly 100 Ukrainians, according to President Zelenskyy, fleeing
yet another war. But as the world's attention remains firmly on the Middle East, the conflict in Ukraine grinds on.
President Zelenskyy appeared on U.S. television on Sunday to try and keep his country's fight in the mind of American people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: I think that the next year with the challenges, because this is the year of your elections. Now again, we
see the critical situation in the Middle East. So, I think your help is very important for the next year. And that is crucial.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Our next guest says Ukrainians shouldn't have to compete for the world's attention. Sasha Dovzhyk is the editor of the London Ukrainian
Review, and she is joining me now live. Sasha, welcome to the program.
As we noted, you're a Ukrainian writer, and you spend a lot of time in London, but you are planning to move back to Ukraine at the end of the
year. You were just there in Kyiv, in Lviv. Tell us what you're seeing there since it's right to point out so much of the world's attention has
shifted to the Middle East.
SASHA DOVZHYK, EDITOR, THE LONDON UKRAINIAN REVIEW: Thank you so much for having me. I indeed was in Ukraine just at the end of October, and what I
saw there was basically what I have been seeing through the entirety of Russia's full-scale invasion, incredible defiance, incredible resistance of
the Ukrainian people.
Almost all my classmates are on the front now and half of them have already been wounded. They recovered and they returned to the front lines to fight
against Russia's genocidal onslaught on Ukraine. Ukrainian civilians continue helping in whatever way they can, be it weaving camouflage nets
for the army, donating to support their defenders or keeping their story in the spotlight of international news. All of these efforts are absolutely
inevitable in our case because we are fighting an existential war, which means we do not have a choice not to fight.
If we stop fighting, there will be no more us. So, it's quite easy to continue in our case if we can -- if you -- if we want to continue to
GOLODRYGA: And that's led you to write a very compelling piece in "The New York Times." I want to read some of it for our viewers. You write, for 20
months, I have been churning out essays on why the world should stay focused on Ukraine. I have written them in a bomb shelter in Lviv, in a
train packed with refugees in Poland. I refuse to compete for attention.
Obviously, what happened on October 7th in Israel shocked the world and the subsequent war has continued to shock. Are you surprised, though, that
there isn't enough space to cover two very significant wars?
DOVZHYK: I'm not surprised. We are at a critical point in our history, perhaps in this century. We have not experienced international crisis at
such a scale. So, perhaps it is inevitable that we sometimes feel confused or tired. But I think it is very important for us to keep our focus sharp.
Because if we lose our focus, it means that we lose on all fronts.
If we allow Ukraine to slide down the scale of our attention, it means that we are letting down the people who represent a democracy. There is no doubt
anywhere in the world that Ukraine is a democracy. We're letting them down. We show the world that democracies are not our priority. And we send a
clear signal to authoritarians around the world that democracies can be attacked.
It means that by staying with Ukraine and keeping our attention on Ukraine, although there are other horrible conflicts exploding around the world, it
means that we will make the world a safer place if we continue supporting the people who are resisting a truly atrocious genocidal onslaught coming
from an authoritarian regime.
GOLODRYGA: We see President Zelenskyy really having a pulse on the current environment right now in the U.S, but around the world, obviously, with so
much attention on the Middle East. But let's be honest, even before October 7th, there had been some frustration in the U.S., specifically amongst the
Republican Party, about continued support for Ukraine and this war and how long that could go on.
We very well may see a government shutdown next week because President Biden is asking for funding for both the war in Ukraine and helping Israel,
and Republicans at this point seem to only be agreeing on the Israel aspect of this. Explain to our viewers how this is being received in Ukraine and
the impact it may be having on true morale overall.
DOVZHYK: Yes, of course. We are incredibly grateful for the support that we are receiving, and we rely on this continued support to continue our
fight. Winter is coming in Ukraine. It means that Russia will again try to attack Ukrainian energy infrastructure. And we must boost our air defense
in order for Ukrainian civilians not to suffer the scale of blackouts that they suffered the last year.
We are indeed truly appreciative of the support that we are receiving from the U.S., but we also understand that we are the ones who are actually
fighting this war on the ground. We are the ones who are sacrificing our health, our lives. And basically, at the time that could be invested into
building our culture, developing our infrastructure, protecting our environment, we are losing this time to the battle against Russia's
invasion, which threatens not only us, it threatens other countries in the European Union.
We know very well that Russian TV propagandists threaten not only Ukraine, but also Poland, the Baltic States, Finland, Sweden, all the allies of the
U.S. in Europe. And Ukraine, by fighting alone, in terms of, you know, bodies, our physical presence on the ground, is actually putting a shield
in front of the allies of the U.S. in Europe. And by this, we are making the continent a safer place.
If we receive the support that we need to defend ourselves and to win this war, we will send a clear signal to everyone around the globe who is now
watching this war in Ukraine that democracies will be supported and that further international conflicts are not worth pursuing.
GOLODRYGA: Ukraine's top war general raised some eyebrows when he made news in an interview a couple of weeks ago describing this war as being at
a stalemate, essentially. President Zelenskyy disputed that. But is that the sense among Ukrainians? And if so, is there concern that there may be
more pressure from the West to go to the negotiating table?
DOVZHYK: It is a hard world to fight for us. We've been pursuing what is called a counteroffensive to liberate our territories, which are currently
occupied by Russia without basically air support. This is not what a NATO country would be asked to do. This is not what is expected of our allies in
We basically persevered because we do not have another choice. There are people in the territories occupied by Russia who are suffering from the
occupation regime. And when we liberate our territories, as we've done, I would like to remind us that Ukraine has actually liberated more than a
half of the territories that Russia occupied since the start of the full- scale invasion.
When we liberate those territories, we face what -- actually cannot be forgotten. We face the mass graves of our fellow citizens. I am among those
who stood in front of a mass grave in the forest of Izium in the Kharkiv region, where a fellow writer was buried, Volodymyr Vakulinko (ph) was his
name. And after this, you understand that you do not have a choice. You must liberate all the territories, and this is the only peace guarantee
that exists for Ukrainians.
We understand that unless Russia is pushed back to its actual internationally recognized borders, we will not have peace in Ukraine. Any
ceasefire at the moment will be used by Russia to rearm and attack Ukraine. Because basically, for them, it is also an existential fight. The existence
of our democracy and our fight for freedom is an existential threat to Russia's authoritarian regime.
So, if we succeed, Russia will also experience an internal crisis, which will definitely push Russians to reconsider their current order.
GOLODRYGA: E.U. membership is also seen, once upon a time, as a red line for Vladimir Putin. Obviously, the ultimate goal, aside from winning this
war for Ukraine, is joining NATO, but also joining the E.U.
And this week, the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said that Ukraine is ready for E.U. membership talks. That led to President
Zelenskyy responding in a post on X that it was a strong and historic step. How significant and how important would E.U. membership be at this moment
DOVZHYK: It was such a fantastic and welcome news for all of us. A decade ago, 10 years ago, in November 2013, a revolution in Ukraine was started
when our then-corrupt president, Viktor Yanukovych, chose to turn away from his country's and his people's European aspirations and along with Moscow.
Ukrainians went out to the streets and protested. This turned into a three- month long revolution as a result of which Yanukovych was ousted and we actually succeeded in toppling the regime that tried to dissuade our
European hopes and aspirations.
The success of Ukrainian democratic revolution was not actually met with any optimism in the Kremlin. And what followed was the invasion of Ukraine
and Russia's annexation of Crimea.
I would like to say that these days we see that the path towards European Union was not an easy one for us, but we are succeeding. And this victory
for us means that we can also win on the battlefield, just because we persevere and just because we don't have other choice. This is the choice
that has been made a decade ago, and we are still on this path, and we believe that we will emerge from the current terrible, terrible situation
GOLODRYGA: Sasha Dovzhyk reminding us that this is a war that we cannot lose sight of and cannot stop covering. Thank you so much for your time and
dedication. And please do keep us posted in the months to come, especially as you do move back to Ukraine. We appreciate your time.
DOVZHYK: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: Well, next month, the Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded to someone who cannot be present to accept it. Iranian human rights activist
Narges Mohammadi has spent most of the past two decades behind bars, currently serving a 10-year sentence in Iran's notorious Evin Prison.
Accused of actions against national security and propaganda against the state.
This week, she went on hunger strike for three days over what she said was the jail's refusal to provide her with medical treatment. Her struggle is a
reminder of the dire state of freedom of expression in Iran right now.
PEN America is a staunch supporter of Mohammadi, awarding her this year's PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award. And CEO of PEN America, Suzanne Nossel,
joins me now from New York. Suzanne, thank you so much for joining us.
So, we do have news that Narges has ended her hunger strike after she has been treated now in a hospital without having to be forced to wear a
mandatory hijab. What more can you tell us about her current condition?
SUZANNE NOSSEL, CEO, PEN AMERICA: Yes. Well, we're very gratified that she was taken to a hospital. She was treated. She stood up for herself.
Look, she went on this hunger strike because she needed medical treatment. She has a heart condition that she's had for some time. And she was
insistent that she was not going to put on a hijab for this trip to the hospital. And she was on hunger strike demanding to receive medical
attention. It was a standoff. And then, the Iranian authorities, from what we can tell, gave in and they let her go to the hospital. They said that
the transfer to the hospital was conducted properly within all the appropriate regulations. And yet, we've heard from her and her associates
she did not wear the job.
And so, you know, her point was, if that was considered proper and in compliance with all the requisite authorities, if I didn't have to wear a
hijab, no one should have to wear a hijab. And so, she used this moment to press her point as an activist and an advocate, not just for herself, but
for all Iranian women in this campaign to shake off the hijab, certainly not have it be compulsory and to win their freedom.
And so, it's kind of a yet another inspiring example of the courage that she's shown even under the most difficult conditions in prison and an
urgent need for medical treatment.
GOLODRYGA: Listen, there are heroes and there are women like Narges who no one could imagine the sacrifice she has made to stay true to her
convictions. We have covered her extensively at CNN, especially Christiane on this show has covered her plight there. But tell us more about her
writing and why PEN has really stood next to her and stood with her in support throughout this journey.
NOSSEL: Yes. She's just an extraordinary voice. She spent the better part of the last decade in prison. She has two teenage children that she hasn't
seen in more than nine years. That her husband, Taghi, when he came to receive the award on her behalf, because of course she was in prison, she -
- it had to be conferred to her in absentia, he talked about his children never having had a time where they had both parents living together. One or
the other had been in prison their entire lives.
So, to cast aside your family life, your loved ones in service of freedom for other women, human rights in Iran is just extraordinary. And she's also
been a remarkable documenter of, you know, just what exactly it is that happens in this regime.
She put out a book about the experience of Iranian women enduring solitary confinement and did interviews with 12 women. This is like on a brief
prison furlough. Manages to do interviews with 12 women who had endured solitary confinement in an Iranian prison and to tell their stories and
make the case. She called it white torture, that solitary confinement is a form of torture and actually advance the ball internationally in terms of
recognizing the ramifications of solitary confinement all over the world and that it really needs to be acknowledged as a form of torture.
So, she's just relentless. And you could see how she uses every single moment of her life to wage this struggle. And I think over the last year
with the uprising of women after the killing of Mahsa Amini in Iran, it's been an inspiration to so many young women who've taken to the streets, to
their schoolyards, casting off their hijabs, challenging the regime with just enormous courage and in the face of really terrifying repression.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. And despite this courageous movement that we see just images of from last year, things have not gotten much better for women in
the country. In fact, they just passed a law in September, a stricter hijab bill targeting those who mock a dress code. Have you been able to crack
either through Narges's writing or from others what is it specifically that this regime fears women so much for?
NOSSEL: You know, I think it is a very deep-seated recognition that, you know, women are the heart and the soul of families and of society and that
they have this craving for freedom.
We see so many. Powerful Iranian women. You know, Narges is in the tradition of Shireen Abadi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize 20 years ago.
Women like Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer who's been at the forefront of the movement for human rights, defending dissidents.
And so, it's -- the women just have this will of steel. And it seems to be something that the Iranian regime sees as particularly threatening. And
that's why they're so repressive. It's not just the hijab, it's full-dress code that women are subject to. And really, a form of subjugation. I think
there's a deep fear that if women sort of had their way and had their full voice and role in society that there's no way that this authoritarian
regime could survive.
And we see many of these women being the most potent figures in Iranian society, those who have captured international attention, who have sparked
mass movements. And so, there is a power there that the regime clearly fears.
GOLODRYGA: And this regime would like the world to focus less on what's happening within its own borders and more on what's happening in the
region, specifically the Israel Gaza war. There is a lot of speculation about what, if any, role Iran may have directly or indirectly that led up
to the October 7th attack.
And as you know, there has been a lot of heated rhetoric that has been generated from this war. Very polarizing differing views and very strong
statements that have been coming out from organizations like yours.
PEN issued two, we should note, one on October 10th that read, PEN America deplores vicious attack against Israeli civilians. Another one you issued
on October 17th titled, Palestinian people and culture under threat from Israel's retaliatory attacks. That has subsequently led to a lot of
internal pushbacks, I know from people who are part of the organization and even on your board.
How have you responded to that? And have you questioned why you would even issue statements given how heated this specific issue is?
NOSSEL: Yes. Look, it's a tough moment for so many institutions. We are and a big tent organization. We encompass thousands of writers from kind of
every part of the political spectrum. That's the very purpose and essence of PEN, is bringing writers together and the idea that if you can use
writing and literature as a bridge across divides, as a catalyst to be able to see into a different future, that there's a kind of untapped power there
that we try to unleash.
And so, something that's divisive in society is going to be divisive for an organization like ours, as it is for so many corporations and universities.
We do work on the Middle East. We've worked on behalf of Palestinian writers who have been imprisoned for their words, a poet whose case we took
up for many years.
And so, we are -- we see ourselves as kind of having a stake in this. We've done a lot of work on what's happening on college campuses. We have a lot
of thinking and guidance that we've developed over years about how to keep the college campus a place that's open to both all people, no matter the
race, nationality, religion and all ideas, no matter what you think about the Israel Hamas conflict that you've got to be able to have a place and a
voice on campus.
GOLODRYGA: But, you know, you have to agree what we're seeing on college campuses is not working. It doesn't appear to be just healthy freedom of
speech among academics and students. There are students on one side who feel threatened. There are students on the other side saying that they have
a right to express freedom of speech. Why has this turned into such a negative example of the use of freedom of speech? Because many say, you
know what, this has turned into a potential, you know, hate crimes at times and hate speech. Where do you draw the line and what can universities learn
from this example?
NOSSEL: Yes, sure. Look, there are lines. The First Amendment doesn't protect all speech. It doesn't protect threats. It doesn't protect
harassment. It doesn't protect incitement of an imminent -- into imminent violence. It doesn't protect violent acts. And so, those lines have to be
maintained and policed. And we've seen conduct over the last few weeks that crosses some of those lines.
On the other hand, we've seen boisterous protests that may be a little bit intimidating, forceful, it may feel hateful, and yet, that speech, most of
the time, if it doesn't cross those lines, is protective. If it's a public university, they can't ban or punish that speech.
So, we've been giving guidance to university leaders, to faculties about how to navigate those boundaries, how to stand up for students who feel
threatened, how to show solidarity when students feel victimized, how to create space for actual give and take and dialogue that is not just two
parties trying to shut one another down.
I think what we've seen, Bianna, is that there is a crisis in terms of civic discourse on our campuses. Our campuses really are the incubators for
a democratic citizenry. This is, for most kids, the first place where they're encountering people from vastly different backgrounds, religions,
nationalities from all over the world.
And, you know, I think there was a notion that just by putting kids together and making the campus more diverse, we would bring about a
pluralistic society and learn how to live together. And we're seeing it takes a lot more work than that. That this has to be a much more
intentional, deliberate effort on campuses to educate kids about free speech, to help faculty maintain an environment of open discourse in the
classroom to ensure that Policies are enforced, and when protests cross over the line and they're shutting down a classroom discussion, you know,
that that may -- must -- may go too far, that you have to be viewpoint neutral, that you can't police speech pro-Israel more than you do that --
which is pro-Palestine, that people have to be treated equally.
And so, there's a lot we can learn from this moment, and I hope it does become kind of a watershed. It feels like a crisis right now, but I think
there's a sense of possibility that it's opening people's eyes to what else needs to be done to keep our campuses free and open to everyone and to the
broadest range of ideas.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. Because as you know, right now, there is a real sense of vulnerability. There's a fear of antisemitism. There's a fear, you know, we
haven' really covered, the rise in Islamophobia as well. And there just seems to be no end to this insight and solutions, which it seems like what
your organization is doing and helping to provide these universities with some solutions on a pathway forward.
Suzanne Nossel, thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it.
NOSSEL: Thank you, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: Well, now we turn to an extraordinary figure making an impact in the medical field. Dr. Katalin Kariko and her research partner were
awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine last month for their groundbreaking work on messenger RNA technology, a vital ingredient in COVID-19 vaccines.
She joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss this milestone and her new memoir, "Breaking Through: My Life in Science."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dr. Katalin Kariko, thanks so much for joining us.
For those of us who might have been under a rock, you got one of the greatest honors, which is the Nobel Prize in Medicine for your work in
messenger RNA. And messenger RNA may have gotten into the pop culture. Unfortunately, it took us a pandemic to know what that was a little bit.
But if you could describe, what is it that you and Drew Weissman did that got you this prize?
DR. KATALIN KARIKO, WINNER, NOBEL PRIZE IN MEDICINE: So, messenger RNA, as you just said, is a molecule which is present in our body. We did not
invent it. Every living organism has this mRNA.
What happened is we could produce this RNA, this messenger RNA, but it turned out that it was not feasible for medical use because it caused
inflammation. And what we did, you know, all mRNA is made from four basic building blocks, and we had to change one of them, and then it became this
messenger RNA, non-inflammatory. And that's what was used in both in the Moderna and the BioNTech Pfizer vaccine, that modified RNA.
SREENIVASAN: So, this was the underlying technology, if you will, that was adapted and used throughout the pandemic. And that's kind of -- sure,
that's an enormous win onto itself. But what is the potential with the technology that you help perfect? What is messenger RNA and this type of
drug delivery going to be able to do over time?
DR. KARIKO: Actually, this messenger RNA technology and the first companies was formed 20 years ago, more than 20 years ago, all of them
tried to develop a vaccine for treating cancer. So, that was what was -- how it was developed. And of course, it is still early (ph). Now, that we
have better data now and more promising results, but it was also used for therapeutic purposes.
And that was my -- always my interest, to deliver an mRNA course for a therapeutic protein and that would -- which already present in the body,
but not in the right place, not enough. And actually, this is how was so used. And genetic diseases also treated right now. And in clinical trial,
more than 250 clinical trial is ongoing where messenger RNA is used (INAUDIBLE) for therapies.
So, there will be more vaccines, vaccines against viruses, bacteria, like bacteria causing Lyme disease. So, those are also under development. And
even for parasites like malaria, clinical trials are ongoing. And of course, against, you know cancer, as well as, you know, these other
therapeutic molecules. So that's -- as a platform and there will be more and more product will be developed.
SREENIVASAN: You have a new memoir out which is fantastic. It's called "Breaking Through" and in it you describe that as you were coming up as a
scientist, your mother was kind of waiting for your -- you know, your name to be read over the radio as a winner of the Nobel Prize.
DR. KARIKO: Yes, indeed. But it was, like, even 10, 20 years ago, you know, that she was when -- coming October, she said, oh, next week, maybe
you will get the Nobel Prize. But, you know, at that point, I was not even a faculty position. So, I was not in that. And then I told her that it
won't happen. But she thought that I worked so much and that I should deserve. But I convinced her that all of the scientists are working very
SREENIVASAN: Yes. Let me take our viewers back a little bit through your life and in this book. It is accurate to say that you grew up in literally
dirt-poor surroundings. If you could tell us a bit about what your home was like in post-war Hungary. You describe a scenario where you didn't have
DR. KARIKO: Yes. But it was -- for me, it was a paradise, you know, because we had a garden, we had animals there, chicken and pigs, and we had
beautiful flowers there. And of course, yes, we -- everybody in the neighborhood went to -- you know, to get water to the street. And that was,
you know -- when we talked to each other, that was the chat room there.
SREENIVASAN: So, the water pump of the village was in the village chat room?
DR. KARIKO: Exactly. And, you know, in the school, more than 50 kids were in one class and it was, you know -- but we were quiet and we had to
listen. So, it was a different environment in. From outside it seems like, you know, it's very deprived, but it was very vivid and very nurturing, and
the teachers were great, and yes, you know, we had -- up until 10 years old, we had no television, we had no refrigerator, and many other things.
But I didn't know that we don't have nobody yet in the neighborhood.
Yes. So -- but we -- you know, the nature which surrounded us was interesting. And, you know, getting -- seeing the stork is coming back and
the bird -- you know, the birds. And I have -- you know, we had chickens and we didn't purchase those, you know, we took the eggs and the -- you
know, the sitting -- the hand was sitting on it. And then, we could see how the chicken is coming out from the eggs. And that's so it is great.
SREENIVASAN: Yes. So, what is it do you think that inspired your kind of interest in education?
DR. KARIKO: Yes. So, yes, indeed. As I mentioned, my sister was three years older. And you know what happens when your sister is studying well,
the teachers in this tiny village, you know, everybody's expecting you that you will be good as well. And so, I had to be good because they expected.
And of course, you know, I was challenged with a different competition. We could participate. And when I prepared and I was winning, you know, it gave
me more enthusiasm to study more. And then, eventually I was -- in eighth grade I was served best in the country in biology. And so, that's what --
how it started.
SREENIVASAN: You talk, you know, interestingly about some of the first times you were watching TV and kind of binge watching American or western
television. And one of the shows that keeps coming up in this memoir is "Columbo," the sort of fumbling detective show back in the '70s. Why
"Columbo"? What does it have to do with sort of the scientific method that's helped define your life?
DR. KARIKO: Yes. So, in science, actually, all -- many things is what happened in "Columbo," you know, that you have an idea, create a
hypothesis, and that, you know, in the "Columbo," at the beginning, we knew that who committed the crime. But, you know, that looking at the thing in
science, also, you kind of create that, oh, probably this is, you know, how things happen.
And then, you look at closer and then everything fits, but there is always a little clue there, which is not fitting there. And so, what they call it,
you know, even for medicine is a tunnel vision. The patient comes there and you see that the sign and then you conclude what is wrong. But one thing is
not fitting and that's what is important. You will never ignore that little thing. Because "Columbo" showed that this little thing will lead you to the
right perpetrator. And in our case, the solution were answer.
SREENIVASAN: Tell me about the decision that you made to try to come to the United States for academic opportunity. I mean, why did you make that
leap in the first place compared to the laboratories that you were working in Hungary?
DR. KARIKO: So, I lost my position there. We lost funding for this research we were doing in Hungary. And I might say that four times I am not
terminated in my position. We wouldn't talk today because that was part of it. And it is very important I emphasize that, you know, the decision was
made and I did not spend time to feeling sorry for myself, but rather focused on what I should do next. And that was the mantra Janos Shaya (ph),
the Hungarian scientist said, how you can handle stress that you always focus on what you can change.
And when I was in high school, we read his book. And then I -- again, if I don't read that book, probably I'm not talking here because he -- we
learned that how to handle the stress and focusing on things we can change. And that's why also that everything you have to look at the positivity. And
when I received the other awards, I said, thank you to all of the people try to make my life miserable, because they -- we work harder and I get
SREENIVASAN: You point out that, really, even though you published your research with Drew Weissman years before the pandemic, it really wasn't
cited hundreds or thousands of times until the pandemic hit. That's when people really started to -- right? So, there might be so much other
research that has been done and published that we're not really aware of or interested in until kind of a crisis moment forces us to start looking for
DR. KARIKO: Yes. You know, so that's how science is. You know, that me in Hungary, when I started to work, my supervisor came from the industry. So,
it's very rare that somebody in the academia is coming from the industry. It is usually the different -- the opposite direction. And then, it
instilled from the first day that what we are doing has to be useful for something. And that's every time -- even if I was working at anywhere, you
know, always thinking that what it would be useful for. So, you know, that I'm doing something.
And many scientists started thinking on the same way. And I mean, more and more companies created in the university setting and, you know, the ideas
were spent out and they test out. And so, that's the way to get to recognize. I tried the same. 2005, we published. 2006, you know, we -- Drew
Weissman, we made the company. But we couldn't get the patent for our own company. That's maybe another one. That's what's painful for me from PEN
that, you know, they did not give us the patent. And so, our company could not be functioning.
SREENIVASAN: A lot of people wonder about kind of the infrastructure that's necessary to produce the type of work and the pace of work that you
were able to produce over the years. And you attribute a lot of that to your supportive husband. And then, you've also mentioned before that we
need better childcare. Explain that.
DR. KARIKO: Exactly. High quality and affordable childcare is -- would be very important to have here. I was lucky in Hungary when my daughter was
born in 1982. And three months later, I could take her to the childcare center. You know, it was -- you know, and I could go to work and then come
back, pick her up. They gave -- provided clothes, food. They gave them vaccine. I just have to sign. There were -- a registered nurse was present
in it. And then, every day, there are pediatrician came to this nursery. And then, I could leave a message, is it normal or something? Or, you know,
they were like, OK, noted, or you have to go to a specialist, but it is normal. Because I -- this was my first child and I didn't know what is
normal and not.
And then, when I worked, I was relaxed because I know that people who -- professionals they are there with my child. And you know, I didn't have to
worry that it is an old lady, maybe she gets sick and then my child is unattended. So, that's kind of thing. And the nominal fee. This is so -- it
was just a nominal fee based on how much income I have and then we had to pay.
So, that, you know, I can see that here if somebody is not wealthy enough to get a nanny or somebody then they won't be able to work, a way required
by the research, and that's what women is doing. They give up their dream, their job, and they take lower level of job because, you know, everybody's
looking at us, the women. And of course, we also feel that, OK, we have to do it. So, the child is playing. I have to stay home. I have to help. And
for elderly parents also, it's all -- the women are doing that. And so, I usually tell the young girls that, you know, find the right husband.
SREENIVASAN: One of the things I wonder is how do you feel about our kind of national, at least in the United States, conversation around science
over the couple of years of the pandemic. I mean, you write, there's such a gap between what people know and what they would need to know to fully
understand the vaccines and medicines that save lives. That gap right now is wide open for exploitation. We must somehow close it.
I mean, because even though the vaccines were saving lives and we could see that result, there was still such a debate about whether or not the
DR. KARIKO: Yes. So, that was absolutely surprising for me, because I remember when I was growing up in Hungary that we had a vaccine for many
different things. And we were happy that we had vaccines so we will be protected.
And I have to say that when people don't understand something, you know, that they try to come up with, think or they are reading something and
somebody comes up with a stupid idea and then they just believe that, because, you know, when -- you know, you see a storm and, you know, like
even long time ago they said, OK, Zeus is angry. And then, that's why we have. So, that's explanation. So, they need explanation.
And then, if somebody provide them something, which is stupid, then they take and start to believe that that's happened. Somebody wants to put a
chip on the vaccine, somebody wants to kill us, somebody wants to follow us. And I don't know this -- why people are so sensitive for this kind of
But what I think it is maybe you need psychologists and different science field experts to come up with a solution how we could fight, you know,
SREENIVASAN: So, if the president of the United States comes to you and asks you for advice on preparing for what might be the next pandemic, I
mean, what would your prescription be? Is it science education? Is it about misinformation, along with the actual hard science? Where should we be
investing our time and resources in preparing?
DR. KARIKO: Definitely. So, that's why I offered my time to -- you know, for education, to talk to the reporters together. We have to somehow
simplify the language, which is the sciences, you know, we use terms that nobody understands. But -- so, we have to simplify it, help the public to
You see, not just the mRNA, people learn too, they learn PCR, you know, they can learn and then they have some idea what it could be and we have to
have them. And of course, the next pandemic, we need other preparedness, you know, which -- with mRNA, you know, we can respond very quickly, but
definitely the gap is so huge. And then, those people who provided misinformation, they also actually profited from that.
SREENIVASAN: Thank you so much, Doctor, for talking with us and congratulations again on the Nobel Prize.
DR. KARIKO: Thank you. Thank you, Hari. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: What an incredible woman. And finally, lost and found. These new pictures prove that this funny looking mammal is not extinct after all.
After being rediscovered by scientists in the Cyclops Mountains of New Guinea, the Attenborough Long Beaked Echidna, named after the famous nature
documentary maker, has the quills of a hedgehog, the snout of an anteater, and the feet of a mole.
Look at that little bandit. These living fossils roamed the Earth with dinosaurs 200 million years ago. Once again, a reminder that humanity is a
mere speck on Earth's great lifespan. Leaving the show with some news you can use.
And also, a quick programming note. On Saturday, you can watch the brand new "Amanpour Hour" from 11:00 a.m. on America's East Coast, 5:00 p.m. in
It is a great show. We'll bring context, conversation, and analysis of our world with newsmakers, cultural icons and the best of CNN in the field.
We're also taking your questions about events shaping our future. So, scan the QR code on your screen or e-mail email@example.com. "The Amanpour
Hour" airs Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Central Europe time only on CNN.
Well, that does it for us for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episodes shortly after it airs or on our podcast. And remember,
you can always catch us online, on our website and all-over social media. Thanks so much for watching and goodbye from New York.