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Great Immigrants

Angelika Amon
Cancer Researcher and Professor, MIT | Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science
Born in:
Austria

Growing up in Austria, Angelika Amon considered becoming a paleontologist or a zoologist, but she got hooked on biology in high school when she saw a film about cell division. As Amon told the Journal of Cell Biology, “I thought it was the coolest thing ever, and I still do.” She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology and a PhD, both from the University of Vienna. Amon moved to the United States in 1994 to complete postdoctoral research at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she was later awarded an early career fellowship. She credits this U.S. fellowship as a turning point in her career, giving her the opportunity and resources to pursue her own research while starting a family. Amon’s research focuses on cell growth and division and how errors in this process, specifically abnormal numbers of chromosomes, can contribute to aging and cancer, among other conditions. Her ultimate goal is to contribute to the discovery of cancer treatments, and her research has already uncovered several potential new therapeutic approaches to the disease. Amon joined the MIT Center for Cancer Research and MIT’s Department of Biology in 1999 and was made full professor in 2007. She is currently the Kathleen and Curtis Marble Professor of Cancer Research and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at MIT. Amon is the recipient of the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, the Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science, and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. As she told the Vilcek Foundation, which honors immigrants’ contributions to American life, “What I love about the United States is that what counts is what you accomplish.”