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. The awards include the Outstanding Achievement Award, which is awarded to one eminent scientist each year who has made a significant and lasting contribution to the advancement of the field; the Young Investigator Awards, which are awarded to up to three young, upcoming scientist each year who have shown great promise, made a considerable contribution to the advancement of the field and promise to go on to be eminent senior researchers and the Travel Grants, which are awarded to the 10 highest scoring abstracts to the Annual Congress. For the full list of awards and eligibility, please click here.

You can read more about all award winners by scrolling down or click on a year to be taken to the relevant information on this page. A full list of Travel Grant winners can be found here.

 2019      2018       2017       2016       2015       2014        2013       2012       2011        2010       2009       2008

Watch some of our past award winners speak about their journey since winning their award below or on our YouTube channel:



2019 Public and Patient Engagement Award: John Bell (established researchers) and Lisa Reidmayr (early career researchers)

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.



2018 Outstanding Achievement Award: 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: 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.




2017 Outstanding Achievement Award: 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”.




2017 Young Investigator Award: Rasmus Bak

In 2017 the YIA was awarded to Rasmus Bak, now a PI at Aarhus University.






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.



2016 Young Investigator Award: Pietro Genovese

In 2016 the YIA was awarded to Pietro Genovese, now Project Leader at SR-TIGET, Milan.







2015 Outstanding Achievement Award: 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: Francesco Tedesco

In 2015 the YIA was awarded to Francesco Saverio Tedesco, now a Reader at University College London.







2014 Outstanding Achievement Award: 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: 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).





2013 Outstanding Achievement Award: 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: 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).







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).





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.



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).



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.


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).




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 Cavanzzana 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.


2009 Young Investigator Awards: Alessandra Biffi and Kerry Fisher

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






2008 Young Investigator Awards: Antonia Follenzi, Eugonio Montini, Simon Waddington and Els Verhoeyen







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