Pakistan-born molecular biologist to receive prestigious 2021 Leibniz Prize

Dr Asifa has been recognised for her groundbreaking cell-biological work on mechanisms of epigenetic gene regulation

News Desk December 17, 2020
Photo: Express


Pakistan-born scientist Dr Asifa Akhtar has been chosen for the prestigious 2021 Leibniz Prize by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

A molecular biologist at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics and Vice President of the Max Planck Society, Dr Asifa has been chosen as the prize winner for her groundbreaking cell-biological work on mechanisms of epigenetic gene regulation. The research prize is endowed with 2.5 million Euros.

The scientist was announced as the winner by the DFG on December 10, 2020.

The Leibniz prizes will be awarded in a virtual ceremony on March 15, 2021.

Dr Asifa obtained her Bachelor degree in Biology from the University College London (UCL), in 1993. She went on to do her PhD in 1998 at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, studying transcriptional regulation in Richard Treisman’s laboratory.

The Pakistan-born scientist continued studying in the field of chromatin regulation as a postdoctoral fellow in Peter Becker’s laboratory at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Heidelberg, Germany, and the Adolf Butenandt Institute, Munich, Germany.

In 2001, Dr Asifa Akhtar became a group leader at EMBL. In 2009, she moved her laboratory to the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, Freiburg, Germany (MPI-IE). In 2013, she was appointed as its director, heading the department of chromatin regulation.

Dr Asifa received the European Life Science Organization (ELSO) award for her significant contribution in the field in 2008 and was elected as an EMBO member in 2013.

In 2019, she was elected as a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. In 2020, she became the first female vice president at the Biological-Medical Section of the Max Planck Society.

Earlier in November, Asifa also participated in a virtual conference organized by NUST with Max Planck Society to explore research opportunities between Germany and Pakistan.



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