Elected for her research into cell fate in the hematopoietic system, Katja said: “I am very honoured to have been elected to the Academy of Medical Sciences. I am particularly thrilled to be part of this illustrious British institution, having been educated in West-Berlin’s Free University in the 1980s. I am also happy that my contributions were significant enough to be nominated despite having had 3 children in my postdoc years. I hope my future contributions will continue to do justice to this accolade.”
Katja trained as an Immunologist under Avrion Mitchison at the DRFZ Berlin before completing a postdoc at the Centre d’Immunologie Marseille Luminy.
During her second postdoc at the Kennedy Institute at NDORMS in Oxford she pursued her interest in cell fate, studying cell death molecules (Trail and FasL) in thymic selection, inflammation and tumour immunity. As a principal investigator, she set up an independent line of enquiry investigating autophagy, another cellular process determining cell fate, in the hemato-immune system. Her group discovered that autophagy, the main conserved cellular bulk degradation pathway, maintains healthy red blood cells, stem cells and memory T cells and promotes differentiation while preventing ageing of the hematopoietic system.
Professor Fiona Powrie, Director of the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology said: "I’m so delighted to see Katja Simon's outstanding work recognised in this way. Her discovery of the role of autophagy in determining immune cell fate and function has important implications for harnessing the immune system to fight disease."
Katja is one of 11 University of Oxford biomedical and health scientists the Academy of Medical Sciences has elected to its fellowship.
The Academy of Medical Sciences is the independent body in the UK representing the diversity of medical science. They work to advance biomedical and health research and its translation into benefits for society.