Making history, Pakistan born Asifa to lead biology, medicine at Max Planck Society

Leading the way in fields of sciences and academia, Karachi born scientist Asifa Akhtar indeed made history, after becoming the first female Vice President in the Biology and Medicine Section at the prestigious Max Planck Society.

“My heart beats for the young scientists,” says Asifa Akhtar, Director and Scientific Member at the MPI for Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg since 2013, quoted Max-Planck-Gesellschaft.

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Born in 1971 in Karachi Pakistan, the biologist is the first international female Vice President in the Biology and Medicine Section of Germany’s premier scientific organization. Under her new role, Asifa would now be in charge of the Institutes of this Section and will also be the contact person for the Max Planck Schools.

“Academic science is a beautiful example of integration because you have people from all over the world exchanging knowledge beyond boundaries, cultures or prejudice,” says Akhtar.

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Apart from academia, Akhtar is also keen to work on gender equality issues. “Gender equality needs to be worked on continuously. There are outstanding women in science and we should make all the efforts and use our resources to win them for the Max Planck Society.”

Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Akhtar obtained her doctorate at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, UK in 1997. She then moved to Germany, where she was a Postdoctoral fellow at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg and the Adolf-Butenandt-Institute in Munich from 1998 to 2001.

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Along the way, Akhtar the biologist has grabbed numerous awards for her scientific achievements including the Early Career European Life Science Organization Award in 2008, EMBO membership in 2013, and the Feldberg Prize in 2017. She was also elected as a member of the National Academy of Science Leopoldina in 2019.

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