Max Planck Society awards Otto Hahn Medal to Aindrila Chatterjee

Award for outstanding scientific achievements

June 11, 2018

Dr. Aindrila Chatterjee receives this years Otto Hahn Medal in recognition of her outstanding doctoral thesis entitled “On the roles of MOF & NSL complex in Mitochondrial Homeostasis”. The work was performed under the supervision of Director Asifa Akhtar at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg. 

In her thesis, Aindrila was able to prove that the classical epigenetic enzyme MOF not only regulates gene expression in the nucleus but also plays a key role as gene regulator in mitochondria DNA governing core metabolic pathways.

By using a wide range of approaches such as confocal microscopy, biochemistry and genetics she elucidated MOF as dual regulator working in both compartments of the cell. In the nucleus, the enzyme is controlling so-called house-keeping genes that are essential for general functions such as cell division or DNA repair. But also present in the mitochondria MOF controls genes that a part of central metabolic pathways for generating energy.

This discovery sheds new light on the epigenetic enzyme MOF and implicates a novel link between gene expression and metabolism control. The dissertation, already honored with the Hans-Grisebach Award 2017 by the University of Freiburg, highlights the enzyme as a molecular bridge-builder connecting epigenetics and metabolism and might provide a new perspective to understand how changes in the environment that are influencing metabolism affect the expression of genes. 

The Otto Hahn Medal will be awarded to all winners on the occasion of the Annual Meeting of the Max Planck Society. More information on the 69th General Meeting of the Max Planck Society 2018 taking place in Heidelberg on 13 June 2018.


Aindrila Chatterjee, born in India, performed her undergraduate studies at Bose Institute in Kolkata, India and became fellow of the Ph.D. program IMPRS-MCB at the MPI of Immunobiology and Epigenetics and the University of Freiburg in 2011. After her graduation in 2016, she continued working as a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Asifa Akhtar. Just recently, Aindrila joined the research group of Prof. Matthias Hentze at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg to continue her studies on the regulatory mechanisms of transcription factors and their importance in connecting gene regulation and metabolism.

Otto Hahn Medal

The Max Planck Society has honored up to 30 young scientists and researchers each year with the Otto Hahn Medal for outstanding scientific achievements. The award comes with a monetary sum of 7500 euros as recognition. The prize is intended to motivate especially gifted junior scientists and researchers to pursue a future university or research career. Since 1978, more than 1000 scientists and researchers have been awarded the Otto Hahn Medal. The award is presented during the general meeting of the MPG in the following year.

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