GSCN Awards

GSCN Scientific Awards

GSCN Awardees 2018

- The „GSCN 2018 Young Investigator Award“ goes to  Dr. Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid of the Max Planck Institute for Immunobiology and Epigenetics.
- The „GSCN 2018 Female Scientist Award“ goes to  Prof. Maria Elena Torres-Padilla of the Institute for Epigenetics and Stem Cells of the Helmholtz Zentrum München.
- The „GSCN 2018 Publication of the Year Award“ goes to Dr. Maja Milanovic (Hematology, Oncology and Tumor Immunity, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin) and Prof. Clemens Schmitt (Deputy Director of the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin’s Medical Department with a focus on hematology, oncology and tumor immunology, Director of the Molecular Cancer Research Center, head of the research group on “Cancer Genetics and Cellular Stress Responses” at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association) for their publication “Senescence-associated reprogramming promotes cancer stemness”, released 2017 in the journal Nature (Milanovic, M et al., 2017, Nature 553, 96-100; doi: 10.1038/nature25167).

Find the GSCN press release here:  Dormant and aggressive stem cells

"GSCN 2018 Young Investigator Award"

Dr. Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid is the winner of the “GSCN 2018 Young Investigator Award” prize honoring her excellent research work as a junior scientist. She is examining the conditions that put blood stem cells into a sleep-like basic state. While the activity phases of blood stem cells following inflammation or injury are well understood, the molecular path back to sleep mode is still far from elucidated. These sleep phases protect stem cells from genomic mutations caused by excessively rapid cell division and stress events such as chemotherapy, as well as preserving their lifelong functionality. Blood cell stems are found in the bone marrow and generate the different blood cell types throughout life. Malfunctions increase the likelihood of pathological developments such as leukemia, for example. The conditions leading to the incidence of blood cancer are still largely unknown. Cabezas-Wallscheid has shown that nutrition also has an impact on the dormant and waking state of blood stem cells, and therefore the production of heathy blood cells: ricinoleic acid, a vitamin A metabolite, improves the capacity of active blood stem cells to return to their dormant state, protecting them from damaging effects.

Born in 1982, Dr Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid, studied biotechnology in Barcelona and Parma. After gaining her Doctorate in Mainz, she conducted her post-doc research in the “Stem Cells and Cancer” department (Professor Andreas Trumpp) at the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) in Heidelberg. Since 2017 Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid has been active as Senior Researcher in the department of Professor Rudolf Grosschedl at the Max-Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics (MPI-IE) in Freiburg.

"GSCN 2018 Female Scientist Award"

Prof. Dr. Maria Elena Torres-Padilla receives the "GSCN 2018 Female Scientist Award" for her outstanding achievements in the research of early embryonic development. In particular, she investigates the state of totipotency, the ability of early embryonic stem cells to develop into all cell types. Torres-Padilla is internationally recognized as an expert in chromatin research in the early embryonic development. She focuses on the transitions of cellular potency and epigenetic reprogramming and investigates molecular mechanisms thereof in the mouse model. She heads the Institute of Epigenetics and Stem Cells (IES) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München and aims at a better understanding of the molecular processes underlying cellular plasticity in order to develop better therapeutic approaches for regenerative medicine and infertility treatment. She is also involved in initiatives for communicating the importance of basic research to a broad public and to decision-makers.

Professor Maria Elena Torres-Padilla is an elected EMBO member and Extraordinary Young Scientist at the World Economic Forum. Since 2016 she heads the Institute of Epigenetics and Stem Cells (IES) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München and is professor of stem cell biology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. After studying biology in Mexico City, the native Mexican obtained her doctorate in Paris, went to Cambridge (UK) as a postdoctoral fellow and habilitated in Strasbourg.


"GSCN 2018 Publication of the Year"


Dr Maja Milanovic and Professor Clemens Schmitt are the winners of the “GSCN 2018 Publication of the Year Award” acknowledging their work on the effects of triggering a cell ageing program (senescence) on tumor cells. Triggering cellular senescence, and thereby achieving a definitive cell division arrest, is an important therapeutic approach for impeding tumor cell growth. Milanovic and Schmitt investigated the downsides of senescence, involving the triggering of epigenetic reprogramming in tumor cells. In such instances, a tumor cell program (tumor stemness) counters the therapeutic objective, enabling aggressive tumor cell growth, thereby favoring treatment failure and potentially the formation of metastases. By way of a novel single-cell analysis method, the scientists at the Charité University Medical Department in Berlin and the Max-Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine (MDC) observed the moment in which stem cell reprogrammed senescent tumor cells sometimes spontaneously revert to the cell division cycle, enabling them to unfold their newly gained stem cell potential in the first place. The results show that tumor cells can defend themselves aggressively and effectively against cancer treatments by reprogramming to stem cell characteristics. At the same time, proceeding on these insights, the team of scientists derived genetic and drug-based strategies for neutralizing tumor stemness.

Publication: Maja Milanovic, Dorothy N. Y. Fan, Dimitri Belenki, J. Henry M. Däbritz, Zhen Zhao, Yong Yu, Jan R. Dörr, Lora Dimitrova, Dido Lenze, Ines A. Monteiro Barbosa, Marco A. Mendoza-Parra, Tamara Kanashova, Marlen Metzner, Katharina Pardon, Maurice Reimann, Andreas Trumpp, Bernd Dörken, Johannes Zuber, Hinrich Gronemeyer, Michael Hummel, Gunnar Dittmar, Soyoung Lee & Clemens A. Schmitt. “Senescence-associated reprogramming promotes cancer stemness”, 2017, Nature 553, 96-100.

Maja Milanovic

Clemens Schmitt



GSCN Awardees 2017

- The „GSCN 2017 Young Investigator Award“ goes to  Dr. Francesco Neri from the Leibniz Institute on Aging - Fritz-Lipmann-Institute (FLI) in Jena.
- The „GSCN 2017 Female Scientist Award“ goes to  Prof. Elly Tanaka from the Institute of Molecular Pathology IMP in Vienna and the TU Dresden.
- The „GSCN 2017 Publication of the Year Award“ goes to  Dr. J. Gray Camp and Prof. Barbara Treutlein (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig), together with Dr. Keisuke Sekine and Prof. Takanori Takebe (Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center). The award honors the publication "Multilineage communication regulates human liver bud development from pluripotency" in the journal Nature (Camp , JG et al., 2017, Nature 546, 533-538, doi: 10.1038/nature22796).

Find the GSCN press release here:  Eavesdropping on the conversation of stem cells

From the press:  MedizinAspekte (18.8.)Ostthüringer Zeitung (18.8)|transcript (23.8.)Laborjournal 09/2017 S.10EuroStemCell (08/2017)

2017 "GSCN Young Investigator Award"

Dr. Francesco Neri receives the "GSCN 2017 Young Investigator Award" for his excellent research as a junior scientist. He explores the damage caused by aging processes in organ and tissue functions. As humans and other mammals age, the risk of developing diseases such as cancer rises. There is increasing evidence that genetic and epigenetic factors influence the functionality and homeostasis of adult stem cells in old age and promote the selective advantage of dominant stem cell clones, which eventually leads to cancer development. Especially DNA methylation (a stable and hereditary epigenetic modification) is associated with age-related diseases and cancer. Neri researches the epigenetic changes of aging stem cells and their function in the formation of clonal dominance and neoplastic interested in understanding how a single cell embryo develops into an adult organism.

Francesco Neri was awarded the Sofja Kovalevskaya Prize of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. His junior research group on the "epigenetics of aging" exists at the FLI in Jena since 2016. The epigeneticist from Tuscany studied molecular biology in Siena (Italy), received a PhD in biotechnology and has been involved in research in Nijmegen (Netherlands) and Turin (Italy).

2017 "GSCN Female Scientist Award"

Prof. Dr. Elly Tanaka receives the "GSCN 2017 Female Scientist Award" for her outstanding achievements in the investigation of fundamental processes in the regeneration of tissues and body parts in animal models. She focuses on the regenerative capacity of the axolotl (Mexican salamander), which regenerates extremities and repairs spinal cord injuries and even brain injuries by re-growing the required cells. The research of the Tanaka Group aims to elucidate the mechanisms that are responsible for the regrowth of the limbs. These findings serve as a model for the regeneration capacity of vertebrates. Key questions are the identity of the stem cells involved and the signals that activate stem cells after injuries.

Elly Tanaka studied biochemistry at Harvard University and received her PhD in Marc Kirschner's lab at the University of California, San Francisco. As a postdoctoral student, she joined Jeremy Brockes at University College, London. In 1999, Tanaka became a group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden. In 2008, she became professor at the TU Dresden. From 2013 to 2016, she was a Max Planck Fellow and from 2014 to 2016, she headed the DFG Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD). Since 2016, she has been at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna and has been a “Honorarprofessor” at the TU Dresden.

2017 "GSCN Publication of the Year"

J. Gray Camp
and Keisuke Sekine have discovered how single cells work together and use their genomes to develop into human liver tissue. The results were published by an international research team led by Takanori Takebe (Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center) and Barbara Treutlein (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig). In the current study, the researchers employ the technology of single-cell RNA sequencing for their analyses. With this method, they observed the alteration of individual cells when combined in a three-dimensional micro-environment with vascular cells, connective tissue cells, and liver cells that communicate with each other. The researchers developed a complete set of active transcription factors, signaling molecules and receptors for each of these cell types, before and after their combination to form liver tissue. The single-cell RNA sequencing aided the researchers in comparing the three-dimensional liver tissue produced from stem cells in the laboratory with naturally occurring human fetal and adult liver cells. The study is a milestone towards the production of healthy, human liver tissue from pluripotent stem cells using biotechnology. The publication is the "GSCN 2017 Publication of the Year Award".

J Gray Camp and Barbara Treutlein



GSCN Awardees 2016

- The „GSCN 2016 Young Investigator Award“ goes to  Dr. Leo Kurian of the Center for Molecular Medicine Cologne (CMMC) at the University of Cologne.

- The „GSCN 2016 Female Scientist Award“ goes to  Prof. Dr. Claudia Waskow of the TU Dresden.

- The „GSCN 2016 Publication of the Year Award“ goes to  Dr. Guangqi Song, Dr. Martin Pacher, Prof. Michael Ott and Dr. Amar Deep Sharma of the REBIRTH Center and TWINCORE Center at Hannover Medical School for the publication “Direct Reprogramming of Hepatic Myofibroblasts into Hepatocytes In Vivo Attenuates Liver Fibrosis“ in the journal Cell Stem Cell (Song, G. et al., 2016, Cell Stem Cell, 18, 797 – 808, doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2016.01.010).  Rebirth News

Guanqgi Song    Martin Pacher

Amar Deep Sharma     Michael Ott



Find the GSCN press release here: All eyes on stem cells

Press: Biospektrum, Sept. 2016 GSCN-Awards-Biospektrum 



Awardees 2015:

- The „GSCN Young Investigator Award“ went to Dr. Julia Ladewig of the Institute of Reconstructive Neurobiology of the University Hospital Bonn.

- The „GSCN Female Scientist Award“ went to Prof. Magdalena Götz of the Institute of Stem Cell Research of the Helmholtz Zentrum München and chair of the Institute of Physiology - Department of Physiological Genomics of the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.

- The „GSCN Publication of the Year Award“ went to Jichang Wang and Dr. Zsuzsanna Izsvák of the Research Team „Mobile DNA“ at the Max-Delbrück-Centrum for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Berlin-Buch. Their publication “Primate-specific endogenous retrovirus driven transcription defines naïve-like stem cells“ appeared in the journal Nature (Wang, J. et al., 2014, Nature, 405-409, doi:10.1038/nature13804).


Find the GSCN press release  here.

Max Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine Berlin Stem Cell Network North Rhine Westphalia Partner Organizations Federal Ministry of Education and Research VDI Technologiezentrum