GSCN Awards

GSCN Scientific Awards

GSCN Awardees 2020

- - The „GSCN 2020 Young Investigator Award“ goes to Prof. Dr. Barbara Treutlein of the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropolgy, Leipzig, and the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
- The „GSCN 2020 Female Scientist Award“ goes to Prof. Dr. Edith Heard, Director General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg.
- The „GSCN 2020 Publication of the Year Award“ goes to Sergiy Velychko and Prof. Dr. Hans R. Schöler of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in Munster for the publication “Excluding Oct4 from Yamanaka cocktail unleashes the developmental potential of iPSCs”, 2019, published in the Journal Cell Stem Cell, 2019 (Sergiy Velychko, et al., 2019, Cell Stem Cell, Vol. 25, Issue 6, Dec. 2019, 737-753.e4, doi:10.1016/j.stem.2019.10.002).

Find the GSCN press release here:  Development of stem cells in the laboratory

"GSCN 2020 Young Investigator Award"

Prof. Dr. Barbara Treutlein will receive the "GSCN 2020 Young Investigator Award" for her outstanding research in the field of single cell analysis and research into the development of human organs, such as the brain. Barbara Treutlein acquired her PhD in single-molecule biophysics at LMU Munich, Germany. During her Postdoc with Stephen Quake at Stanford University, she pioneered the use of microfluidic-based single-cell transcriptomics to dissect the cellular composition of complex tissues, and to elucidate differentiation pathways during lung development and cell reprogramming. Since 2015 she has been a Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and held a tenure-track assistant professorship at TU Munich. Since 2019, she is Professor for Quantitative Developmental Biology at the ETH Zürich D-BSSE, Switzerland. Her group uses and develops single-cell genomics approaches in combination with stem cell based 2- and 3-dimensional culture systems to study human organogenesis. For her work, Barbara Treutlein has received multiple awards, including the Friedmund Neumann Prize of the Schering Foundation and the Dr. Susan Lim Award for Outstanding Young Investigator of the International Society of Stem Cell Research.

Barbara Treutlein 


"GSCN 2029 Female Scientist Award"

Prof. Dr. Edith Heard will receive the "GSCN 2020 Female Scientist Award" for her outstanding achievements in epigenetic and developmental biology research on X-chromosome inactivation in females. Her professional career as a researcher shows a successful path that could be considered a model and motivation for many women scientists: The London-born molecular biologist studied at Imperial College in London where she received her PhD in 1990 in the field of cancer research. She then spent nine years at the Institute Pasteur in Paris, first as a postdoc and then as a permanent researcher, before taking a one-year sabbatical at Cold Spring Harbor in the USA. In 2001, she established her own group at the Institute Curie and became director of the Institute's Genetics and Developmental Biology Department in 2010. Edith Heard was appointed professor at the Collège de France in 2012 where she holds the chair of epigenetics and cellular memory. In January 2019, she started work as Director General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. The Heard group at EMBL combines genetic engineering and genomics with a range of cell biology and imaging approaches to investigate the role of chromatin modifications, chromosomal organisation and non-coding RNAs in the process of X chromosome inactivation.

Edith Heard

"GSCN 2020 Publication of the Year"

Sergiy Velychko and Prof. Dr. Hans R. Schöler will receive the "GSCN 2020 Publication of the Year Award" for their discovery of the unnecessary, if not obstructive, role of Oct4 in stem cell reprogramming. When Nobel Prize winner Shinya Yamanaka discovered stem cell reprogramming, he used the four transcription factors Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc to reprogram adult cells back into a state of pluripotent stem cells, similar to embryonic stem cells. Since then, these four factors have been used to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). Velychkov and Schöler have now shown that reprogramming without Oct4 enables the generation of mouse iPS cells with improved development potential and superior quality.

Publication: Sergiy Velychko, Kenjiro Adachi, Kee-Pyo Kim, Yanlin Hou, Caitlin M. MacCarthy, Guangming Wu, Hans R. Schöler (2019) „Excluding Oct4 from Yamanaka cocktail unleashes the developmental potential of iPSCs”, 2019, Cell Stem Cell, Cell Stem Cell, Vol. 25, Issue 6, Dec. 2019, 737-753.e4, DOI:10.1016/j.stem.2019.10.002

Sergiy Velychko

Hans R. Schöler



GSCN Awardees 2019

- The "GSCN 2019 Young Investigator Award" goes to Dr. Nico Lachmann from the Institute for Experimental Hematology at Hannover Medical School (MHH).
- The "GSCN 2019 Female Scientist Award" goes to Prof. Dr. Ana Martin-Villalba from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg.
- The "GSCN 2019 Publication of the Year Award" goes to Dr. Germán Camargo Ortega (Cell System Dynamics Group, ETH Zurich) and Prof. Magdalena Götz (Director of the Institute for Stem Cell Research at Helmholtz Zentrum München and Chair of Physiological Genomics at the Biomedical Centre of LMU) for the publication "The centrosome protein Akna regulates neurogenesis via microtubule organization", 2019, in the journal Nature (Camargo Ortega, G et al., 2019, Nature 567, 113-117, doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-0962)

Find the GSCN press release here:  Discover the potential of stem cells

"GSCN 2019 Young Investigator Award"

Dr. Nico Lachmann receives the "GSCN 2019 Young Investigator Award" for his outstanding research work as a young scientist. Early on, he combined methods for the genetic modification of stem cells in order to provide genetically improved cells for novel therapies. Dr. Lachmann was particularly fascinated by the macrophages, important cells of the immune system. The focus on macrophages has changed considerably in recent years and Dr. Lachmann has contributed significantly to the current understanding of macrophages. In his work, he has used different stem cells in order to install macrophages as a new and promising cell-based treatment approach for different diseases. By using both multipotent and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), Dr. Lachmann has used macrophages to uncover the development of different diseases. In addition, he created new systems for the generation of blood cells from iPSCs and demonstrated the long-term therapeutic benefit and regenerative potential of stem cell-based macrophages in the lung.

Dr. Nico Lachmann currently works at the Institute for Experimental Hematology (IEH) at the MHH and is a member of the Cluster of Excellence "From Regenerative Biology to Reconstructive Therapy; REBIRTH". Since 2015 he is independent group leader of the working group "Translational Hematology of Congenital Diseases" at the IEH and the REBIRTH Cluster of Excellence in Hannover as well as consultant of the "Transitional Pulmonary Science Center" at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. After studying life sciences and biomedicine, he worked as a postdoc at the Hannover Medical School (MHH) and at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Medicine. 

Nico Lachmann 


"GSCN 2019 Female Scientist Award"

Prof. Dr. Ana Martin-Villalba receives the "GSCN 2019 Female Scientist Award" for her outstanding achievements in the biology of neuronal stem cells. Her laboratory at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg aims to understand the mechanisms of neuronal plasticity that underlie the malignant transformation in neurooncology and are essential for the reconstruction of the central nervous system (CNS) following injuries in regenerative medicine. Martin-Villalba focuses on the understanding of stem cell decision processes in the adult brain. What are the differences in the healthy, injured and aging brain? How does the decision to differentiate a stem cell into a specific nerve cell work in detail? This decision forms the basis for the contribution of stem cells to brain function and repair in injuries and neurodegenerative disorders. Wrong decisions can cause malignant changes that lead to brain tumors. To study stem cells in the CNS of a living organism, Martin-Villalba has adopted a multidisciplinary approach that combines genetically engineered mouse models with injury and cancer models and cutting-edge technologies in single cell analysis such as line tracking, epigenomics and transcriptomics. Its cutting-edge research is reflected in the publication successes in the journals Nature and Cell in 2019 alone.

Prof. Dr. Ana Martin-Villalba studied medicine at the University of Murcia in Spain and in Leeds, Great Britain. She received her doctorate from the University of Heidelberg in 1998, where she studied the role of death ligands (CD95L, TNF and TRAIL) in apoptosis in the human brain after stroke. In 2006, Martin-Villalba became head of the Junior Group Molecular Neurobiology at the DKFZ. Since 2011, she has been Professor of "Neurobiology of Brain Tumors" at the University of Heidelberg and Head of the Department of Molecular Neurobiology at the DKFZ. Her work in the field of CNS regeneration was awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant in 2017. Her awards include the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstädter Young Investigators Prize, the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize of the German Research Foundation and the Walther and Christine Richtzenhain Prize.

Ana Martin-Villalba

"GSCN 2019 Publication of the Year"

Dr. Germán Camargo Ortega and Prof. Magdalena Götz received the "GSCN 2019 Publication of the Year Award" for their discovery of the important role of the protein Akna in the decision of the stem cell whether and how it differentiates further. Together with Dr. Sven Falk and Dr. Pia A. Johansson, the other first authors*, Camargo Ortega observed that the protein Akna, for example, controls the behavior of neural stem cells via a mechanism that might also be important for the formation of metastases. The scientists isolated cells that either renew themselves and form further neural stem cells or differentiate and form nerve cells. They found that the protein Akna was found in much higher concentrations in the stem cells that developed into nerve cells. If it was less present, the stem cells remained in the niche, whereas higher protein concentrations increased the detachment of the stem cell from its niche and thus promoted differentiation into a neural cell. The scientists were particularly surprised by the position of the protein on the centrosome, a small organell inside the cell that is responsible for the organization of the cytoskeleton and cell division. The researchers were able to show that Akna anchors the cell scaffold in the form of microtubules. This can weaken the connections to the neighboring cells and promote detachment and migration from the stem cell niche. This mechanism identified by Akna can play a central role in various medically relevant processes.

Publication: Germán Camargo Ortega, Sven Falk, Pia A. Johansson, Peyre, E., Broix, L., Sahu, S.K., Hirst W, Schlichthaerle T, De Juan Romero C, Draganova K, Vinopal S, Chinnappa K, Gavranovic A, Karakaya T, Steininger T, Merl-Pham J, Feederle R, Shao W, Shi SH, Hauck SM, Jungmann R, Bradke F, Borrell V, Geerlof A, Reber S, Tiwari VK, Huttner WB, Wilsch-Bräuninger M, Nguyen L, Götz Magdalena (2019) „The centrosome protein Akna regulates neurogenesis via microtubule organization“, 2019, Nature 567, 113–117, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-0962-       

Germán Camargo Ortega

Sven Falk

Pia A. Johansson

Magdalena Götz



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