Asifa Akhtar is the first international female Vice President of the Biology and Medicine Section in the Max Planck Society. Born in Karachi, Pakistan, she obtained her doctorate at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, UK in 1997. 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. She rejoined the EMBL Heidelberg as a group leader before becoming a Max Planck Investigator at the MPI in Freiburg in 2009. Since 2013, she has been a director at the MPI for Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg. Asifa Akhtar was awarded the Early Career European Life Science Organization Award in 2008, EMBO membership in 2013, and the Wilhelm-Feldberg Prize in 2017. She was elected as a member of the National Academy of Science Leopoldina in 2019.