ESGCT Award winners

Each year, the European Society for Gene and Cell Therapy honours impacting, significant and lasting contributions to the field of gene and cell therapy through its awards.

For the full list of awards and eligibility, please click here.

You can read more about all previous award winners below:

2019 Outstanding Achievement Award

 Sponsored by:

Nathalie Cartier-Lacave

Inserm U1127, Institute for Brain and Spine (ICM), Paris

After her medical residency, Nathalie Cartier held a postdoctoral position at Institut Cochin in the laboratory of Axel Kahn, in which she developed transgenic animal model for cancer research. In 1993, she joined the laboratory of Pierre Bougnères to work on the development of the first therapeutic clinical trial of gene therapy in human. This study enabled the cure of four children with adrenoleukodystrophy, a so far deadly and uncured disease. She pursued this therapeutic approach by developing the gene therapy of the Metachromatic leukodystrophy. A clinical trial is currently ongoing at the Bicêtre Hospital in Paris.

Today, she investigates a gene therapy approach targeting the cerebral cholesterol pathway to cure Alzheimer and Huntington disease at the CEA Centre d’imagerie Moléculaire (MirCen).

Nathalie Cartier has been president of the French and of the European Society of  Gene and Cell Therapy (SFTCG and ESGCT) where she has been involved in the development of new approach of gene therapy. She has received the Legion of Honor, the awards of the Medical Academy, the Prix Jean Valade of the French foundation and the Prix Thermo Biotherapy.

2019 Outstanding Achievement Award

 Sponsored by:

Paula Rio

Ciemat/Ciberer, Madrid

Paula Río has been working in the field of Fanconi anemia (FA) gene therapy for 20 years, in the design of new vectors for the treatment of the disease (González-Murillo et al, 2010), in the characterization of different preclinical models of the disease (Rio et al., 2002; Rio et al., 2008) and in the translation of gene therapy to the clinic (Jacome et al. 2006; Jacome et al., 2009; Tolar et al., 2012). Her studies in the field of gene therapy in Fanconi anemia started with her Thesis entitled” Gene therapy for Fanconi anemia subtype A in a mouse model” directed by Prof.  J.A. Bueren and Dr. J.C. Segovia with a distinction “cum laude”. She got a post-doctoral position in Prof. Hanenberg’ lab (Children’s Hospital, Düsseldorf), where she was involved in the characterization of a new FA gene (Levran et al., 2005). In 2005 she moved to CIEMAT where she started working in the development of a new protocol to correct hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) from FA patients by gene therapy (Jacome et al., 2006; Jacome et al.,2009) and the design of a new lentiviral vector that has received the orphan drug designation both by the EMA and FDA (Ref: EMA/COMP/662962/2010 and #DRU-2016-5193, respectively). In 2017 she participated in a study demonstrating for the first time that a short transduction protocol allows the engraftment of corrected cells from FA patients in immunodeficient mice (Rio*, Navarro* et al., 2017). Now she is deeply involved as Associated investigator in two different clinical trials focused on the correction of HSCs from Fanconi anemia A patients (NCT03157804 and NCT04248439) (Río et al. 2019). She is also in charge of Production department of the GMP facility Clinistem for the development of gene therapy trials for rare diseases. 
Since 2010 she has been also working in gene editing, first by targeting HSCs from FA patients by Homologous recombination (Rio*, Baños* et al., 2014; Diez et al., 2017) and nowadays by Non-homologous end joining using the CRISPR/Cas9 system (Román-Rodriguez et al., 2019).
She has published 42 articles (PubMed; H index: 18), received 6 International Awards including the Young Investigator Award by the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ESGCT) in 2019.
She has directed 5 Doctoral Thesis, and nowadays is supervising two PhD students. 
Paula has been for four years a Board Member of the Spanish Society of Cell and Gene Therapy. She also evaluates papers from different specialized journals and participates actively in the Fanconi anemia Gene Therapy working group, organized by the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund.
Nowadays she is co-principal investigator in two different projects, one focused on Gene editing in FA, granted by Rocket Pharma and a project supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities entitled: Gene therapy and other innovative therapies for the treatment of inherited bone marrow failure syndromes (GENECURE).

2019 Travel award winners


2019 Public and Patient Engagement Award 

John Bell and Lisa Reidmayr 

In 2019, two PPA Awards were awarded. One award was given to an established researcher, John Bell, for his examplary work engaging all stakeholders, including patients with gene and cell therapy, establishing dialogue and generating learning through BioCanRx. The other award was given to an early career researcher, Lisa Riedmayr, for her participation in several science outreach events like the Soapbox Science event in Munich, where she informed pedestrians about her research and developing and organising her own science outreach event: a student science day informing more than 200 high school students about the importance of science and the potential danger of science myths.

2019 Award winners

2018 Outstanding Achievement Award Didier Trono

Sponsored by

Didier Trono

For his seminal contribution to the original design and early development of lentivirus-based gene delivery systems for gene therapy, stemming from fundamental insights on the mechanism of HIV infection of non-dividing cells and the dispensable role of viral accessory genes in gene transfer performance. Dr. Trono is Professor of Genetics and Virology at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland.



2018 Young Investigator Award 

Sponsored by

Alessio Cantore

For his contributions to the advancement of liver-directed gene therapy approaches for haemophilia, including the improvement of vector and transgene potency. Alessio Cantore is Project Leader at SR-TIGET and Assistant Professor at  Vita Salute San Raffaele University, in Milan, Italy.


2019 Travel grants

2018 Award winners

2017 Outstanding Achievement Award

supported by

Malcolm Brenner

For his contributions to developing the field of haematopoietic gene therapy, and in particular for his seminal work on bone marrow stem cells. Dr. Brenner is the Director of the Center for Gene and Cell Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas and a past Editor-in-Chief of “Molecular Therapy”.
Want to find out more about Malcom Brenner?  Click on the YouTube icon

2017 Young Investigator Award

Supported by

Rasmus Bak

In 2017 the YIA was awarded to Rasmus Bak, now a PI at Aarhus University.
Rasmus talks about his research in the below video

2017 Travel grants

Matteo Doglio San Raffaele Hospital and Vita-salute San Raffaele University, Milan Jian Gao Witten/Herdecke University
Hanen Khabou Sorbonne University, Paris
Yvonne Knopp Hannover Medical School
Magalie Penaud-Budloo INSERM UMR 1089, Nantes
Anett Pfeiffer Paul Ehrlich Institute, Langen
Albert Ribera Autonomous University of Barcelona-CBATEG David Salas Go´mez University of Navarra, Pamplona Carolin Schmelas Heidelberg University Hospital
Erkko Ylo¨sma¨ki University of Helsinki


2017 Award winners

2016 Outstanding Achievement Award 

Amit Nathwani

For his pioneering work on adeno-associated virus gene transfer and gene therapy in haematology, including the first successful correction of bleeding in haemophillia B patients. Dr Nathwani is Professor of Haematology, University College London, and Director of The Katharine Dormandy Haemophilia Centre and Thrombosis Unit, Royal Free Hospital, London.
Click on the YouTube link to find out more about Amit Nathwani.

2016 Young Investigator Award Pietro Genovese

Pietro Genovese

In 2016 the YIA was awarded to Pietro Genovese, now Project Leader at SR-TIGET, Milan.
Pietro tells us more about himself in the video below




2016 Travel grant

Alessio Cantore, SR-Tiget, Milan
Pietro Giuseppe Mazzara, San Raffaele Scientific Institute , Milan
Margherita Norelli, San Raffaele University, Milan
Yein Nam, University of Manchester
Adele Mucci, RG Reprogramming and Gene Therapy, Cluster of Excellence REBIRTH, Hannover
Miriam Hetzel, Institute of Experimental Hematology, REBIRTH Cluster of Excellence, Hannover Medical School, Hannover
Nerea Zabaleta, CIMA, University of Navarra, Pamplona Giulia Carola, IBUB, University of Barcelona
Fanny Collaud, Genethon, Evry
Saliha Majdoul, Genethon, Evry

2016 Award winners

2015 Outstanding Achievement Award

supported by

Luigi Naldini

For his wide-ranging contributions to the field of gene and cell therapy, particularly for the development and improvement of lentiviral vectors for gene therapy. Dr Naldini is Professor of Gene and Cell Therapy and Director of the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy in Milan, and Past President of ESGCT.


2015 Young Investigator Award 

Supported by

Francesco Tedesco

In 2015 the YIA was awarded to Francesco Saverio Tedesco, now a Reader at University College London.
Francesco talks further about his work in the video below.


2015 Travel Grants

Carles Calatayud Aristoy: Assessing the role of LRRK2 G2019S mutation and the genomic background to the development of PD-related neurodegeneration

Antonio Miguel Matas: Antitumor effect of GM-CSF genetically modified cells combined with CTLA4 and Foxp3 gene silencing in mice

Jessica Hartmann: DARPins as tool for flexible vector targeting – specific manipulation of GluA4 positive interneurons in defined brain areas

Irene Gil-Farina: New insights into AAV vectors integration profile: internal vector regions

Romain Fol: AAV- APPsα brain delivery rescues synaptic failure in an Alzheimers disease mouse model

Tayebeh Soheili: Correction of CTLs cytotoxic function defect by SIN-lentiviral mediated expression of Munc13-4 in type 3 familial hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis

Serena Scala: Comprehensive atlas of activity and “integrome” of human hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells

Lucia Sereni: A new conditional mouse model to unravel the platelet defect in Wiskott- Aldrich syndrome

Akiko Makino: A novel RNA virus-based episomal vector system for long-term stem cell modification

Annita Montepeloso: Hematopoietic stem cell gene therapy for the treatment of Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy

2015 Award winners

2014 Outstanding Achievement Award 

Supported by

Manuel Grez

In recognition of his contributions to gene therapy for blood disorders, including X-linked chronic granulomatous disease. Professor Grez is based at the Institute for Tumor Biology and Experimental Therapy, Georg-Speyer-Haus, Frankfurt.


2014 Young Investigator Awards 

supported by

Vincenzo Cerullo & Volker Busskamp 

In 2014 two YIA were awarded, to Vincenzo Cerullo (left, now an Associate Professor at the University of Helsinki) and to Volker Busskamp (right, now a Research Group Leader at TU Dresden).


2014 Travel grants

Polychronis Fatouros, Germany
Pietro Genovese, Italy
Sonia Guedan Carrio, USA
Johanna Laakkonen, Finland
Nico Lachmann, Germany
Kathleen Boerner, Germany
Delia D'Avola, Spain
Alba Rodri´guez Garci´a, Spain
Maria Grazia Biferi, France
Camille Levy, France

2014 Award winners

2013 Outstanding Achievement Award 

Supported by

Zelig Eshhar

For his seminal work on the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and its use in cancer immunotherapy. Dr. Eshhar is Emeritus Professor of Chemical and Cellular Immunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Tel Aviv.



2013 Young Investigator Awards

Supported by

Luca Biasco, Jonathan Finn

In 2013 only two YIA were awarded, to Luca Biasco (left, now a PI at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's) and to Jonathan Finn (right, now Executive Director at Intellia Therapeutics, Cambridge, MA).

Want to know more about Jonathan Finn, click on the YouTube icon

2013 Travel grants

2013 Award winners

2012 Outstanding Achievement Award

Thierry VandenDriessche

In recognition of his achievements in developing and improving gene therapy technology. Professor VandenDriessche is Professor in Medicine at the Free University of Brussels and the University of Leuven, Director of The Department of Gene Therapy & Regenerative Medicine at the Free University of Brussels and a Past President of ESGCT.


2012 Young Investigator Awards

Cynthia Bartholomae, Rachael Pearson and Randy Chandler

In 2012, three Young Investigator awards were awarded, to Cynthia Bartholomae (left, now Senior Project Manager at GeneWerk), Rachael Pearson (middle, now Professor of Developmental Neuroscience at University College London) and Randy Chandler (right, now an Associate Clinical Investigator at the National Institute of Health, Bethesda).
Find out more about Randy by clicking on the YouTube icon

2012 Award winners

2011 Outstanding Achievement Award

Adrian Thrasher

For his wide-ranging achievements in gene and cell therapy for immunodeficiencies, including X linked SCID and Wiskott Aldrich syndrome. Dr Thrasher is Professor of Paediatric Immunology at University College London/Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Watch Adrian's interview by clicking on the YouTube icon

2011 Young Investigator Awards

Richard Gabriel, Bernard Gentner, Angelo Lombardo and Axel Schambach

In 2011, there were an uncommonly high number of high calibre applicants for the YIA and it was awarded to four people (left to right): Richard Gabriel (now Head of Project Management at GeneWerk), Bernhard Gentner (now a Clinical Group Leader at SR-TIGET and the San Raffaele Hospital, Milan), Angelo Lombardo (now a Group Leader at SR-TIGET, Milan) and Axel Schambach (now a PI at Hannover Medical School). 
Listen to Axel talk about his research by clicking on the YouTube icon

2011 awards winners

2010 Outstanding Achievement Award

Claudio Bordignon, Maria Grazia Roncarolo and Alessandro Aiuti

For their combined success in developing gene therapies for primary immunodeficiencies, including seminal clinical trials in both paediatric and adult blood disorders whilst working together at the San Raffaelle Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy (TIGET), Milan. Professor Auiti is currently Head of Unit for Pathogenesis and Therapy of Primary Immunodeficiencies, TIGET, Prof Roncarolo is currently based at The Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Stanford, California. Professsor Bordignon is currently Chairman of MolMed SpA. He has previously served as Scientific Director of the San Raffaele Scientific Institute and is a Past President ESGCT.

You can watch Alessandro's interview by clicking on the YouTube icon.

2010 Young Investigator Awards 

Nicola Brunetti-Pieri, Attilio Bondanza and Serena Zacchigna

In 2010 YIAs were awarded to Nicola Brunetti-Pierri (left, now Associate Investigator at TIGEM, Milan) Attilio Bondanza (centre, now a PI at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University) and to Serena Zacchigna (right, now Group Leader at ICGEB, Trieste).

2010 awards winners

2009 Outstanding Achievement Award

Marina Cavazzana 

For spearheading the translation of gene therapy from the lab into the clinic, particularly in the field of immunodeficiencies. Professor Cavazzana is currently a Professor of Hematology at Paris Descartes University, Head of the Department of Biotherapy at Hospital Necker-Enfants Malades, AP-HP and Chief of Research of the Laboratory of Human Lympho-haematopoiesis U1163 Inserm in the Institut Imagine in Paris. Check out her interview by clicking on the YouTube image.


2009 Young Investigator Awards

In 2009 two YIA were awarded, to
Alessandra Biffi (left, now the director of the gene therapy program at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's) 
Kerry Fisher (right, now a Lecturer in Oncology at the University of Oxford). 


2009 awards winners

Young investigator award winners


In 2008, YIA were awarded to four people (left to right): 
Antonia Follenzi (now an Assistant Professor at the University of Piemonte Orientale),
Eugonio Montini (now a PI at SR-TIGET, Milan),
Els Verhoeyen (now a PI at the center for international infectiology, Lyon and the Cancer institute C3M, Nice).
Simon Waddington (now a Reader in Gene Transfer Technology at University College London)

2008 awards winners