Congratulations to the 2023 Amon Award Winners 

portraits of the Amon Award winners

Johanna Gassler (left) and Ruxandra-Andreea Lambuta. Photos courtesy of the awardees.

The Koch Institute at MIT is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Angelika Amon Young Scientist Award, Johanna Gassler and Ruxandra-Andreea Lambuta. The prize was established in 2021 to recognize graduate students in the life sciences or biomedical research from institutions outside the United States who embody Dr. Amon’s infectious enthusiasm for discovery science. 

Both of this year’s winners work to unravel the fundamental biology of chromatin, the densely structured complex of DNA, RNA, and proteins that makes up a cell’s genetic material.  

Gassler, who received her PhD recently after conducting graduate work at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, Austria, and at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Germany, explores how chromatin is remodeled in embryonic cells to achieve totipotency, the ability to give rise to any cell type necessary to form a new organism. Gassler focuses on the transition from oocyte (a cell in the ovary that may become an ovum) to zygote (a fertilized ovum). 

Lambuta, who recently completed doctoral work at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, studies changes in the three-dimensional organization of chromatin in cells that have undergone whole genome doubling (an event common to many cancers). In her thesis, she identified mechanisms for how these alterations contribute to cancer initiation and development.  

This fall, Gassler and Lambuta will visit the Koch Institute. The MIT community and Amon Lab alumni are invited to attend their scientific presentations on Thursday, November 2 at 1:00 p.m. in the Luria Auditorium.

Gassler will present on "Chromatin reorganization to totipotency during the mammalian oocyte-to-zygote transition," and Lambuta will present on "Whole genome doubling drives oncogenic loss of chromatin segregation."

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