Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Professor Katja Simon is the recipient of this year's prestigious Ita Askonas Prize for her contribution to immunology.

Katja Simon

The prize was established by the European Federations of Immunological Societies (EFIS) and the European Journal of Immunology (EJI) to acknowledge prominent European female group leaders in immunology.

Professor Katja Simon has revolutionised the field of autophagy, the process by which cells get rid of unnecessary or dysfunctional components. Her group discovered that autophagy maintains healthy red blood cells, stem cells and memory T cells, and promotes differentiation while preventing ageing of the hematopoietic system, responsible for producing cellular blood components.

"I am absolutely delighted to receive this prize. I have had an unusually slow career progression as a woman and mother in science, and this prize has made it clear that unusual career paths are possible.

"I am also delighted because Ita Askonas has been my mentor over several years when I worked at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine as a postdoc and young group leader. With her mentoring, she has not only encouraged me but also many other female scientists after her retirement.

"I am particularly grateful to her because through her influence at the Royal Society, she contributed to scrapping time elapsed between finishing a PhD and starting a fellowship as a criterion for eligibility. The MRC and Wellcome Trust followed suit and eventually scrapped this eligibility criterion as well. This was a major obstacle to my career and will hopefully change the future path of scientists that have taken breaks or had to slow down due to family or other commitments or are intending to do so."

Professor Simon has received the award in Amsterdam in September 2018 at the Fifth European Congress of Immunology (ECI 2018).

The EFIS-EJI Ita Askonas Prize was first awarded at the ECI 2009 in Berlin, to the Kennedy Institute's Director Professor Fiona Powrie.

Brigitte Askonas, widely known as Ita, was a leading figure in modern immunology, whose work made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the immune system as an intricate network of different cell types interacting and producing mediators to control their complex functions.

Professor Katja Simon Talks about the Ita Askonas Award

Find out more

Similar stories

The new Botnar strategy is announced

After a year as the Director of the Botnar Institute for Musculoskeletal Sciences, Professor Jonathan Rees announces a new structure and strategy that will further enhance research and treatment of bone, joint and musculoskeletal conditions.

Sara Khalid named Associate Professor at NDORMS

The University of Oxford has awarded the title of Associate Professor to Dr Sara Khalid as part of its recognition of excellence awards.

New global health grant to improve outcomes for patients with hip fracture

Hip fracture patients in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC) in Asia are set to benefit from a new study that aims to bring best practice programmes to improve quality of life for patients and reduce healthcare costs.

NDORMS welcomes great-granddaughter of former Head of Department

Julia Strubell, great-granddaughter of Professor Josep Trueta, visited NDORMS to find out about his time here and to share her own work with staff and students.

Botnar researchers awarded Fellowships

Arani Vivekanantham has been awarded an NIHR Doctoral Fellowship and a Versus Arthritis Clinical Research Fellowship, and Rachel Kuo was awarded an NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship.

Better diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune diseases moves a step closer

A study published in Nature outlines a way to find the crucial peptides (protein fragments) that drive autoimmunity, as well as the immune cells that respond to them.