Whitehead Institute Mourns the Death of Angelika Amon

Angelika Amon. Image: Samara Vise, Courtesy Koch Institute

October 30, 2020

Angelika Amon, one of the world’s most respected biomedical researchers and a colleague and mentor to many Whitehead Institute investigators and trainees, died yesterday. She was 53 and the cause was cancer—one of the diseases she spent her career studying. Her research examined the processes underlying mitosis and the meiotic cell cycle, and explored the effects of abnormal chromosome numbers on both normal physiology and tumor development.

Amon was the Kathleen and Curtis Marble Professor of Cancer Research and professor of biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and Associate Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Born, raised, and educated in Vienna, Austria, in 1994 Amon became a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of then Whitehead Member—and now director—Ruth Lehmann. In 1996, Amon launched her own lab as a Whitehead Fellow; and she joined the MIT faculty in 1999.

“Angelika was both an extraordinary scientist and a wonderful person,” Lehmann observes. “She was energetic in all facets of her life. That energy drove her accomplishments as a researcher; but it also brought warmth and light to all those around her. She was a passionate and committed scientist, mentor, colleague, and friend. Her passing leaves us feeling an immense void, scientifically and personally.”

Widely lauded for her research and her leadership, Amon was an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and she received (among many honors) the NAS Award in Molecular Biology, the Genetics Society of America Medal, and the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine—one of Europe’s most prestigious medical awards. In 2019 she received both the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and the Vilcek Prize, which recognized her significant contributions as a foreign-born researcher in the United States.

The Whitehead Institute community shares the sense of mourning expressed by our MIT colleague Tyler Jacks, director of the Koch Institute: “To say that [Angelika] will be missed does not come close to capturing the feeling of loss.”

Whitehead Institute is a world-renowned non-profit research institution dedicated to improving human health through basic biomedical research.
Wholly independent in its governance, finances, and research programs, Whitehead shares a close affiliation with Massachusetts Institute of Technology
through its faculty, who hold joint MIT appointments.

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