Rabitsch Award 2022 for Melanie de Almeida
Established in 2006, the Kirsten Peter Rabitsch Award is presented annually in recognition of outstanding achievements to a PhD student at the IMP or at IMBA. This year, the Rabitsch Award goes to Melanie de Almeida, a PhD graduate from the cancer biology lab of Johannes Zuber.
Melanie de Almeida is a recent PhD graduate from the lab of Johannes Zuber. Her award-winning research investigated the regulation of the transcription factor MYC. When overexpressed, MYC contributes to causing certain types of cancer. Together with Matthias Hinterndorfer, Melanie developed a time-controlled CRISPR screening assay to systematically identify regulatory pathways controlling MYC expression. With their assay, the scientists were able to precisely control the timing of gene editing. This control tool enabled them to study the direct effects of each gene knockout on MYC expression, independent of potential effects on cell viability.
Using their method, the they could identify a new regulator of MYC that they had not expected: a small protein called AKIRIN2 that seemed to regulate the turnover of nuclear proteins and has an essential role for the import of the proteasome into the nucleus. These findings, a collaboration between the labs of Johannes Zuber and David Haselbach, were published in the journal Nature in October last year.
Melanie de Almeida did her PhD in the lab of Johannes Zuber between 2017 and this year. She did her undergraduate studies in molecular biotechnology at Aachen University in Germany and received her master’s degree in human biology at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
The Rabitsch Award, worth 2,000 Euro, was established in honour Kirsten Peter Rabitsch, a promising PhD student in Kim Nasmyth’s lab at the IMP, who passed away under tragic circumstances during his time at the institute.