French president names Stéphane Bancel a Chevalier for Moderna's Covid triumph
Moderna’s rapid fire development of its hugely successful mRNA vaccine for Covid saved lives, changed the vaccine industry forever and made CEO Stéphane Bancel a billionaire. But perhaps the sweetest reward came this week, when Bancel was named a Chevalier — basically knighted — by the president of France.
Prestigious European titles like this are rare in biopharma, but not unknown, as AstraZeneca’s Mene Pangalos could tell you after being knighted by the Queen, named on the honors list in 2020 for his contribution to science.
Born in Marseilles with an MBA from Harvard, Bancel unabashedly vowed to either go big at Moderna, raising what were then huge sums for his startup, or fold the tent and go home. Now running a $53 billion pharma company, he was stung repeatedly by early skeptics who questioned the company’s culture, its science and Bancel’s brash personality.
Bancel still gets lots of criticism and the rest of the pipeline is far from assured, as nothing is in this business. But getting the highest honor in France has to count as a moment to celebrate leading a landmark accomplishment. He earned that.
We’re honored that our CEO Stéphane Bancel was named Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d’Honneur, the highest French distinction for military and civil accomplishments, by Mr Francis Wahl on behalf of @EmmanuelMacron, President of France. pic.twitter.com/aybqJJIRzJ
— Moderna (@moderna_tx) May 18, 2022