Otto Hahn Medals for Judit Carrasco & Katharina Schönberger
Freiburg junior scientists honoured for outstanding research projects
For over 40 years, the Max Planck Society awards prizes to junior scientists who have performed astonishing work. Judit Carrasco and Katharina Schönberger receive each the prestigious Otto Hahn Medal. The medal weighs a proud 400 grams and marks the new owners as one of Max Planck’s outstanding research talents.
In 2023, 29 young scientists are being honored with the Otto Hahn Medal for their exceptional scientific accomplishments in relation to their doctoral theses. Two of them finished their thesis at the MPI of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg: Judith Carrasco from the lab of Valérie Hilgers and Katharina Schönberger, who was a Ph.D. student with Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid. The Otto Hahn Medal, accompanied by a prize of €7,500, aims to motivate young scientists to pursue a university or research career.
Judit Carrasco: Development and functioning of the brain
Judit Carrasco (Hilgers Lab) gets awarded “for the discovery of a genetic program required for the development and the proper function of the brain.” RNA molecules play a crucial role in making sure that neurons function properly. Nearly every known neurological or neurodegenerative disease in humans is associated with the malfunction of RNA regulation. In her PhD work, Judit investigated mechanisms of neuron-specific RNA processing and their impact in neurodevelopment and disease.
Her award winning research
Katharina Schönberger: vitamin A metabolites and hematopoietic stem cells
Katharina Schönberger (Cabezas-Wallscheid Lab) receives the Otto Hahn Medal for the discovery of a new mechanism on how dietary vitamin A regulates hematopoietic stem cells. Her work at the MPI-IE investigated the complex regulatory networks that preserve the exceptional capabilities of blood stem cells that supply the blood system with fresh cells but remain, if not needed, in a state of dormancy to protect their unique potential. Katharina revealed how a unique metabolite produced from vitamin A, previously considered a junk by-product, regulates blood stem cell function.
Her award-winning research
Otto Hahn Medals
The Max Planck Society annually honors up to 30 young scientists and researchers with the Otto Hahn Medal for outstanding scientific achievements. The award comes with a monetary sum of 7500 euros and is intended to motivate especially gifted junior scientists and researchers to pursue a future university or research career. The award is named after the German chemist and Nobel laureate Otto Hahn (1879-1968), who was president of the MPG from 1948 to 1960. Since 1978, more than 1000 scientists and researchers have been awarded the Otto Hahn Medal.