Press Release


John Hansen Research Grant 2021 winners from left to right: Esteban Arrieta-Bolaños, Miguel Álvaro-Benito, Ignazio Caruana, Shuichiro Takashima


Tübingen, Germany, April 8, 2021 – DKMS Stiftung Leben Spenden (DKMS Foundation for Giving Life) has awarded four young scientists with the John Hansen Research Grant 2021. The grant is endowed with 240,000 euros each.

The foundation supports promising international research projects in the field of blood stem cell transplantation and cell therapy, which aim to improve the survival and healing chances of blood cancer patients in the long term.

After a stem cell transplant, many blood cancer patients can soon lead an almost normal life again. However, not all transplanted patients are permanently cured. Relapses and complications such as graft-versus-host disease, in which life-threatening rejection reactions can occur after transplantation, still pose major challenges for physicians and scientists.

"Advancing research in the field of blood cancer therapy is immensely important, because it is the only way we can win the battle against this life-threatening disease," says Professor Dr. Thomas Klingebiel, Chairman of the Medical Council, DKMS Stiftung Leben Spenden. Therefore, DKMS - beyond its original cause as a stem cell donor center - also works in the medical-scientific field to contribute to better transplantation results and thus to more life chances for patients. An important aspect of this is the promotion of young scientists: Every year, DKMS Stiftung Leben Spenden awards the DKMS John Hansen Research Grant to up to four young scientists in order to secure medical progress in the field of stem cell transplantation and cell therapy for the future.

While in the past two years only women were awarded, this year four young men have prevailed among the applicants with their pioneering research projects:

Ignazio Caruana, PhD, Department of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation at the University Children's Hospital of Würzburg, Germany (project title: Inducible CAR-T-cells derived from a donor-derived peptide-stimulated oligoclonal T-cell population with on/off-switches for targeted immunotherapy post-hematopoietic stem cell transplantation)

Shuichiro Takashima PhD, MD, Department of Medicine, Hanash Laboratory, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, USA (project title: STAT1-driven orchestration of the intestinal stem cell response to gastrointestinal graft-versus-host disease)

Esteban Arrieta-Bolaños, PhD, Institute for Experimental Cellular Therapy, University Hospital Essen, Germany (project title: Unraveling HLA-DM-sensitive T-cell alloreactivity HLA-DP: mining for novel tools in leukemia immunotherapy)

Miguel Álvaro-Benito, PhD, Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany (project title: Beyond the classics: functional profiling of ncHLAII genetic variation).

John A. Hansen, who the grant is named after, was a long-standing member of the DKMS Stiftung Leben Spenden Foundation Board and the DKMS Medical Council. The DKMS John Hansen Research Grant is a tribute to his life's work as an internationally respected and outstanding oncologist, leader in the field of immunogenetics, and a kind-hearted empathetic physician.

For more information on the 2021 grantees' research projects, please visit

The application period for the John Hansen Research Grant 2022 opens on August 3, 2021, and interested applicants are encouraged to email at any time.