The 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to Rupert Handgretinger, M.D., Ph.D.
Rupert Handgretinger, M.D., Ph.D. is the thirteenth recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pediatric Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Consortium (PTCTC). Dr. Handgretinger is being recognized for his outstanding contribution to the field of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. His work helped establish the field of haploidentical transplantation in pediatrics and continued with important advances in targeted immunotherapy. His pioneering efforts have improved outcomes for children undergoing stem cell transplantation and align with the mission of PTCTC “ To support research and education to improve the availability, safety, and efficacy of hematopoietic cell transplantation and other cellular therapeutics for children and adolescents.”
Dr. Handgretinger is a Professor of Pediatrics (since 2005) and the chairman of the Department of General Pediatrics and Hematology/Oncology at the Children’s University Hospital in Tübingen, Germany. The Children’s University Hospital is one of the largest Children’s Hospitals in Germany and has various programs, including allogeneic stem cell and organ transplantation. From 2000–2005, he was the director of the Division of Stem Cell Transplantation at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, USA, where he served as a full faculty member and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee, Memphis. Prof. Handgretinger was one of the first to introduce CD34+ positive selection in haploidentical transplantation and together with other researches developed methods for the ex vivo negative depletion of T-cells from mobilized peripheral blood from matched unrelated and haploidentical donors. The more recently developed depletion of αβ+ T-lymphocytes is now widely used in pediatric haploidentical transplantation.
In addition, Prof. Handgretinger’s other research interests have been the development of novel approaches of humoral and cellular immunotherapies for various forms of cancer. He was the first in 2008 to use the bispecific T-cell engager (BiTE) Blinatumomab in children with refractory pre-B leukemia and was the first in 1989 to use the murine anti-GD2 antibody 14.G2a in children with refractory neuroblastoma, which then resulted in the development of the chimeric anti-GD2 antibody ch14.18, with which he and others performed several pilot studies prior to its approval for the treatment of children with high- risk neuroblastoma. More recently. Prof. Handgretinger’s team is focusing on the generation of new chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) constructs and one of them is the development of an unique adapter CAR approach using CARs directed against biotin in combination with various biotinylated antibodies directed against haematological and solid tumors.
Prof. Handgretinger has authored and co-authored >485 papers in peer-reviewed journals and contributed to various textbooks dealing with stem cell transplantation and immunotherapy. He is a member of the German academy of science Leopoldina and he is on the editorial board of various journals and associate editor of the journal Bone Marrow Transplantation.