Kathrin Knauf is Vice President of Project Management at Moderna, where she worked on the team manufacturing the 2020 COVID-19 vaccine. During the time after the virus was first discovered, she led activities across Manufacturing, Quality and Technical Development to organize a successful start in addressing what would become a pandemic disease, and ramp up of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine production.
An immigrant from Germany, Kathrin formerly worked at Novartis in Technical Operations, leading large manufacturing teams and supporting the implementation of projects such as the startup of a Cell & Gene Therapy (Kymriah®) in New Jersey. She first came to the United States at 28 as part of an international work assignment after working in Marburg, Germany for 9 years.
In 2020, Kathrin became concerned by rising nationalism and political hostility to foreigners. Nervous about securing her US citizenship, she accelerated her application, renounced her German citizenship, and was naturalized as a US citizen in December, the same month the Moderna vaccine was granted Emergency use authorization by the FDA.
“I’m so driven by my overall curiosity that I tend to ignore my gender identification as it relates to my actions and leadership,” she said in an interview for Women’s Day in 2020. “That doesn’t mean I’m blind to the fact that our industry has more work to do towards equality across gender and other factors… For me, the bigger question is ‘How can we generate interest in areas like manufacturing and show that it is highly creative and heart-based work?’ This way, we can reach a broad range of people overall.”