Annual Meeting

Congratulations to the 2020 ASGCT Award Winners

ASGCT Staff - April 10, 2020

The American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy is proud to announce the winners of the Outstanding Achievement Award, the Outstanding New Investigator Award, and the Sonia Skarlatos Public Service Award.

The American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy is proud to announce the winners of the Outstanding Achievement Award, the Outstanding New Investigator Award, and the Sonia Skarlatos Public Service Award.

Outstanding Achievement Award

The Outstanding Achievement Award (OAA) recognizes an ASGCT Member who has achieved a pioneering research success, specific high-impact accomplishment, or lifetime of significant contributions to the field of gene and cell therapy. It is the Society’s highest honor. The recipient is celebrated at the Annual Meeting by presenting a plenary lecture highlighting their scientific accomplishments that led to the award.

Mavis Agbandje-McKenna, Ph.D.
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Florida College of Medicine

Agbandje-McKenna's group uses structural biology approaches (X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy and image reconstruction) combined with biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology, and in vivo animal studies to study single-stranded DNA packaging viruses. This includes members of the Circoviridae, Geminiviridae, and Parvoviridae. The group aims to characterize pathogenic and non-pathogenic viruses with the goal to develop methods of control and gene therapy strategies to treat monogenic diseases, respectively.

Outstanding New Investigator Award

Winners of the Outstanding New Investigator (ONI) Award come from academia, research foundations, government, or industry, and are recognized each year based on their contributions to the field of gene and cell therapy. Each awardee will present a plenary lecture at the ASGCT Annual Meeting highlighting their scientific accomplishments that led to the Award.

Daniel Bauer, M.D., Ph.D.
Principal Investigator and Staff Physician, Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center
Assistant Professor in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School

Bauer is a physician-scientist whose research focuses on functional genomics to dissect determinants of blood cell development and disease and develop innovative therapies. His clinical work is in pediatric hematology. He identified the BCL11A erythroid enhancer as a favorable target for therapeutic genome editing for the β-hemoglobinopathies, now being investigated in several clinical trials. His research has elucidated molecular mechanisms of hemoglobin switching; advanced high-throughput gene editing approaches to associate genetic variants with phenotypes; and developed methods for highly efficient and specific gene editing in human hematopoietic stem cells.

James Dahlman, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University

Dahlman's lab, which he started in 2016, works at the interface of drug delivery and genomics by applying "big data" and "technology development" approaches to nanomedicine. Dahlman's students have developed DNA bar-coded nanoparticles to measure how hundreds of nanoparticles deliver mRNA and siRNA in multiple cell types in vivo, all from a single animal. Since late 2016, the lab has used this approach to quantify>4,500 nanoparticles in vivo, thereby identifying nanoparticles that target new cell types without ligands. His lab hopes to apply systems biology approaches to nanomedicine, in order to (i) improve the efficacy of gene therapies and (ii) identify genes acting as master regulators of nanoparticle delivery in vivo.

Viviana Gradinaru, Ph.D.
Professor of Neuroscience and Biological Engineering, California Institute of Technology

Gradinaru’s research group at Caltech specializes in developing neuroscience tools and methods, including engineering of new viral vectors with optimized brain tropism after systemic delivery. In addition to developing technologies for neuroscience, Gradinaru has also been using such tools and methods to dissect circuitry underlying movement, mood, and sleep disorders. The Gradinaru group at Caltech has recently developed and disseminated various new tools for less invasive gene delivery and optogenetics to the brain. With collaborators and her own Caltech group, Gradinaru is now applying these gene delivery tools to neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders.

Shengdar Tsai, Ph.D.
Assistant Member in the Department of Hematology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Tsai's long-term goal is to define and improve genome editing technologies for therapeutics, with a focus on human genetic conditions such as sickle cell disease (SCD) and T-cells for cancer immunotherapy. His research group integrates high-throughput genomics, protein engineering, and cell and molecular biology techniques to develop: 1) sensitive methods for defining the genome-wide activity of engineered nucleases, 2) genome editors with improved properties with respect to specificity or DNA damage repair choice, and 3) novel approaches for clinical gene editing of human hematopoietic stem cells for treatment of SCD.

Sonia Skarlatos Public Service Award

Named for its inaugural co-recipient and tireless gene therapy advocate,the Sonia Skarlatos Public Service Award (PSA) recognizes a person or group that has consistently fostered and enhanced the field of gene and cell therapy through governmental agencies, public policy groups, public education, or non-governmental charitable organizations.

Peter Marks, M.D. Ph.D.
Director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Marks and Center staff are committed to facilitating the development of biological products, including vaccines, allergenic and blood products, and cell and gene therapies, as well as providing oversight throughout the product life cycle. Under Marks' direction, CBER staff are responsible for reviewing and providing advice during product development, evaluating applications and making approval decisions based on safety and effectiveness data, monitoring the safety of biological products, and conducting research that supports product development and characterization.


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