Asifa Akhtar: Pakistani-born scientist becomes first woman to head a department at ‘Max Planck Society’

Pakistan-born scientist asifa akhtar

For the first time a Pakistani women, Asifa Akhtar, has become the Vice President of the prestigious Max Planck Society research institute in Germany.


Pakistan-born scientist Asifa Akhtar has become the first international female vice president of the biology and medicine section at one of the world’s leading research institute. The institute which was established in 1948 and is responsible for producing 18 Nobel laureates.

Ms Akhtar will be serving as in charge of the institutes of the mentioned sections and will also be the contact person for the Max Planck Schools.

Akhtar, on the society’s website, says, “My heart beats for the young scientists.”

During an interview, she told the society that “Academic science is a beautiful example of integration because you have people from all over the world exchanging knowledge beyond boundaries, cultures or prejudice.”

Akhtar aims to address prevalent issues of the society as well, “Gender equality needs to be worked on continuously. There are outstanding women in science, and we should make all the efforts and use our resources to win them for the Max Planck Society,” she said.

“If we want women to progress in science, we need to enable practical solutions such as childcare and time-sharing or home office options,” she added.

Asifa is the first biologist to have achieved the honor of being a vice president. She was born in Karachi, Pakistan, in the year 1971.

She then moved to Germany, where she was a Postdoctoral fellow at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg and the Adolf-Butenandt-Institute in Munich from 1998 to 2001.

Ms Akhtar was awarded the Early Career European Life Science Organisation Award in 2008, EMBO membership in 2013, and the Feldberg Prize in 2017. She was also elected as a member of the National Academy of Science Leopoldina in 2019.

Pakistan is proud on this achievement and congratulated her on twitter:


Foreigners are also ecstatic on such an achievement:

The institute also congratulated her:

We also wish our heartiest congratulations to the young scientist and wish her successful strides in the field of science.