We are pleased to announce that the DKMS Mechtild Harf Science Award 2021 will be given to an outstanding haematologist, innovative scientist and a pioneer in haploidentical transplantation, Professor Massimo Fabrizio Martelli. The Italian physician and researcher is the 20th recipient of the annual €10,000 prize.
Martelli’s studies on approaches to reduce the risk of graft-versus-host disease while preserving graft-versus-leukemia effects have been enormously fruitful for the further development of medical science in this field.
His multifaceted research activities led to groundbreaking discoveries that profoundly influenced clinical practice and have been translated into clinical success. Martelli facilitated successful stem cell transplantations for high-risk patients with acute leukemia without compatible donors and conducted the first successful clinical trial on haploidentical stem cell transplantation in 1993, and to this day his research has had a great impact on the lives of patients with blood cancer. During his long career, he has published more than 350 articles in international medical journals and received several prestigious scientific awards.
Martelli has been Professor at the University of Perugia and Head of the Department of Oncology and Hematology. During his 30 years at the university, together with a group of brilliant young scientists, Martelli established a department that achieved excellence in research and clinical care. Under his direction the Hematology Department has provided top-level care for patients from diagnosis to treatment, educated many renowned hematologists and made seminal contributions to medical science. Since 2011, the eminent physician has been Emeritus Professor at the University of Perugia.
We use the opportunity of our virtual award ceremony to also recognize the exceptional achievements of last year’s recipient of the Mechtild Harf Science Award, Professor Fred Falkenburg, one of the most important researchers in the field of transplant-immunology. With the award, we honor his important work regarding the discovery of minor transplantation antigens and cell therapies to overcome post-transplant relapse.
Falkenburg combines clinical Hematology with both basic and translational research. He is especially interested in the development of new immunological strategies to improve the outcome of allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Falkenburg’s current research focuses on the combination of stem cell and T-cell therapy, which provides the patient or recipient with new haematopoietic cells and also cellular immunotherapy. Falkenburg is investigating the best way to prevent these lymphocytes from being directed against the recipient, which triggers the so-called "Graft-versus-Host Disease” (GvHD).