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Koch Institute celebrates inaugural winners of the Angelika Amon Young

On Nov. 17, the Koch Institute for Integrative Most cancers Analysis hosted the inaugural winners of the Angelika Amon Younger Scientist Award, Alejandro Aguilera Castrejón and Melanie de Almeida. 

The award was established on the Koch Institute by household and buddies of MIT college member Angelika Amon, a professor of biology and a member of the Koch Institute who died in 2020 following a two-and-a-half-year battle with ovarian most cancers. The award is given yearly to 2 graduate college students within the life sciences or biomedical analysis from establishments exterior the US who embody Amon’s infectious enthusiasm for discovery science.  

Winners are invited to the Koch Institute for an award ceremony and displays to the MIT neighborhood, family and friends of the winners, and Amon Lab alumni. Attendees joined on-line from international locations all over the world, together with Argentina, Austria, Denmark, France, Israel, Italy, Mexico, and the UK. 

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Amon was born in Vienna, Austria, and studied genetics on the College of Vienna as an undergraduate pupil and on the Analysis Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP). Amon arrived in the US in 1994 as a postdoc on the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Analysis, and joined the MIT college in 1999. Widely known for her profound contributions to our understanding of the elemental biology of cell division and proliferation, in addition to the causes of chromosome mis-segregation and its penalties for human ailments akin to most cancers, Amon was equally well-known for her mentorship and advocacy for her college students, postdocs, and colleagues. 

“Angelika was a devoted mentor, information, advocate, and good friend to many scientists,” stated MIT Koch Institute Director Matthew Vander Heiden on the award ceremony. “She educated numerous undergraduate and graduate college students, postdoctoral researchers, and technicians, sharing with them her lifelong ardour for elementary biology and discovery science. The ripple impact of Angelika’s inspiration and counsel is profound.” 

De Almeida, who just lately accomplished her PhD within the lab of Johannes Zuber at IMP, introduced on the event of a time-controlled CRISPR-based system for screening for the consequences of gene knockouts. Whereas utilizing the system to knock out genes important to regulating MYC, a protein usually dysregulated in most cancers, de Almeida and a fellow grad pupil stumbled throughout a poorly understood gene, AKIRIN2, which they found to manage the import of enzymes that break down pointless or broken proteins into the nucleus of mammalian cells.  

When de Almeida began learning AKIRN2, she felt that doing science was “like fixing a riddle, the place you really want to ask the correct inquiries to get nearer to the answer. The perfect half about science is whenever you come to the top of a protracted experiment to seek out out whether or not your speculation is definitely true.” 

Aguilera Castrejón, at present a doctoral pupil within the lab of Jacob Hanna on the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, delivered a chat on his work creating in vitro programs for the tradition of mammalian embryos exterior the maternal uterus after which utilizing these programs to realize insights into mammalian embryogenesis. Aguilera Castrejón’s platform permits post-implantation mouse embryos to develop exterior the uterus for as much as 6 days, and can be used to tradition stem cell-derived embryo fashions. 

A primary-generation graduate pupil from a working-class household in Mexico Metropolis, Aguilera Castrejón hopes that the Amon Award will assist him “promote developmental biology in Mexico and different underdeveloped international locations, and importantly, will present others that modern science just isn’t just for these born in rich or educated households, or in wealthy international locations, however that science is for everybody who’s keen about discovery.” 

After their displays, Aguilera Castrejón and De Almeida got their awards by Amon’s household, husband Johannes Weis and daughters Theresa and Clara. 

“As we speak I might see among the similar love and keenness for science that I noticed in Angelika, and that simply what we wished to seize,” stated Weis. “In future years, we are going to attempt to hold that spirit alive with this award.” 

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