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Cellular therapies: New oportunities offered by genetic engineering and immunotherapy

Life and Matter Sciences Ciclo de conferencias y debates en ciencias Thursday, 16 February 2023, 17:30 hours Madrid

General information:

Venue: Fundación Ramón Areces - salón de actos. Calle Vitruvio, 5. 28006. Madrid.

Free admission. Necessary previous online registration. Limited capacity. 

Organized by:

Fundación Ramón Areces y Springer Nature

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The use of cell therapy is finally expanding into the clinic after many years of research, with its clinical use focused primarily on bone marrow transplantation. Thanks to the use of new genetic engineering techniques, cell therapy is positioned as a leading treatment approach for the cure of some cancer types of as well as other neurological and autoimmune diseases.

In recent years, cell therapies, or the use of live cells to fight a disease, have experienced an explosive growth in clinical application. The first applications in humans began in 1950 with bone marrow transplants to treat patients with haematological cancers. The success of these treatments provided years of evidence about the potential of cells as new agents to treat disease. With the approval genetically altered 'CAR-T' cells to treat lymphomas, and their success in treating solid and hematological cancers, the field has seen an unprecedented explosion. Recent successes include the use of stem cells to repair damaged corneas, or to treat Crohn's disease. 

This 15th Conference will cover recent clinical applications of cell therapy to treat cancer. Advances in the understanding of the immune system that have led to safer strategies and more efficient genome disruption techniques will be discussed. As well as the future prospects that this technology may offer for treating hitherto incurable diseases.

Thursday, 16 February

17:00 h.

Attendees check-in



Raimundo Pérez-Hernández y Torra
Director of Fundación Ramón Areces.

Emilio Bouza Santiago
Chairman of the Scientific Council of the Fundación Ramón Areces.

Soledad Santos Suárez 
Editorial Director Iberia and LATAM, Springer Healthcare, a Springer Nature business.



Erika Pastrana
Editorial Director for Nature Journals, New York, USA.


Novel cellular targets and delivery strategies for hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell gene therapy

Luca Biasco 
Sana Biotechnology, Cambridge (USA) and University College London, London (United Kingdom).


Immunotherapy with genetically engineered immune cells – a recent perspective

Evelyn Ullrich 
Experimental Immunology, Goethe University Hospital, Frankfurt am Main (Germany).


Advances in Tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy for solid tumors

Elena Garralda
Director and Principal Investigator, Early Drug Development Unit. Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), Barcelona (Spain).


Development of cell-based cytokine factories for immunomodulation

Omid Veiseh
Department of Bioengineering, Rice University, Houston (USA).



Erika Pastrana
Editorial Director for Nature Journals, New York, USA.


  Luca Biasco

With more than 19 years of professional experience in the field of advanced therapies, Luca Biasco is currently executive director of the gene therapy R&D programme for the company SANA Biotechnology, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA). He is also a visiting professor at the University College of London within the Gene Therapy Programme at the Institute of Child Health, Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Dr Luca Biasco Biasco generated the safety data for the marketing authorization for Strimvelis™, the first commercially approved ex vivo stem cell gene therapy in the world (distributed by GlaxoSmithKline, GSK). He was also a consultant to GSK on the safety of lentiviral gene therapy for Wiskott Aldrich syndrome.

At Boston Children's Hospital/Dana Farber Cancer Institute, he directed the vector safety team for the Gene Therapy program. He also led a research laboratory at Harvard Medical School, investigating the properties of stem cell gene therapy products and their in vivo dynamics upon infusion in humans. 


   Evelyn Ullrich

Dr. Ullrich is Professor of Cellular Immunology at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, am Main, Germany. She is head of the research unit “Experimental Immunology” and of the “Cancer Survivorship Unit” at the UCT, University Hospital of the J.W. Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany. She received her medical degree from the Albert Ludwigs University in Freiburg and was further trained at the Universities Regensburg, Erlangen and Paris. She is a board-certified specialist in Internal Medicine and Immunology.

Since 2012, she leads the Experimental Immunology Unit at the Frankfurt Children's Hospital, supported by the LOEWE Centre for Cell and Gene Therapy Frankfurt. She has been involved in the characterization of natural killer (NK) and innate lymphoid cell subsets.

The current research of her group addresses the understanding of immune regulation and the development of cellular immunotherapeutics with focus on genetic engineering of immune cells towards translational clinical application.


  Elena Garralda

Dr. Elena Garralda is clinical investigator and director of the Early Clinical Drug Development Unit (UITM) at VHIO since 2017. Her career has been mainly focused on proof-of-concept and proof-of-mechanism trials with targeted therapies, with special emphasis on those in cell signalling, cancer stem cells and immuno-oncology, as well as cell therapy in solid tumours.

Currently, she is working on First-In-Human studies of targeted therapies, rational combinations of targeted therapies, biomarker-driven trials, and assays in molecularly selected populations. On of the main objectives of her group is to link their clinical research with the different research areas of the Institute to develop better cancer therapies adapted to the specific and individual characteristics of each tumour.  

Converging immuno-oncology and genomics to further advance precision medicine against cancer are the future key goals of her work and investigation.


   Omid Veiseh

Dr. Veiseh holds a Ph.D.. from the University of Washington. Researcher and Professor of Bioengineering at Rice University, Texas (USA).

Omid Veiseh, Ph.D., has over a decade of experience developing bio-technologies for clinical application, and he is an inventor on 20 pending or awarded patents. Since 2017, he is an assistant professor at Rice University.

The transformative research discoveries he made as a postdoctoral research fellow on cell therapies helped catalyze the launch of Sigilon company. Through grants from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Department of Defense, Dr. Veiseh worked to develop a bio-artificial pancreas for the treatment of patients afflicted with type 1 diabetes. Dr. Veiseh developed a high-throughput pipeline for the synthesis and evaluation of material formulations that are able to resist foreign body reactions.

Omid Veiseh’s laboratory utilizes advanced nano, micro, and macro fabrication techniques in combination with molecular engineering and cellular and molecular biology, to develop platforms of implantable devices tailored for in vivo chemical sensing and delivery of therapeutics. The Veiseh laboratory is particularly interested in developing technologies for the improved management of cancer, Type-1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases.


  Erika Pastrana

Erika Pastrana has a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from ‘Universidad Autónoma de Madrid’ and was granted a doctorate at the same university, investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for promoting the regeneration of damaged axons in the mammalian central nervous system. After her doctoral thesis, Erika went to New York for four years where she did her postdoctoral studies at Columbia University studying neurogenesis and neural lineage progression mechanisms in adult mice.

She began her publishing career in 2010 as editor at Nature Methods, where she was in charge of neurosciences, and in March 2014 she moved to the Nature Communications Journal as Team Manager. In April 2017 she began as Executive Editor in the Division of Nature Research Journals and, in 2019, as Editorial Director of Nature Journals being responsible for the management and editorial direction of applied sciences and chemistry, including Nature Biotechnology, Nature Medicine, Nature Biomedical Engineering – among others – and, more recently, Nature Electronics, Nature Mental Health and Nature Machine Intelligence.

Erika is part of the Nature Research management team and is responsible for the development and implementation of new editorial policies, practices and workflows.

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