Posted on 4th July 2024 by Charlotte Ridler

Professor John Gribben receives prestigious José Carreras award

John Gribben, Professor of Medical Oncology at Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, has been named this year’s winner of the European Hematology Association’s prestigious José Carreras Award in recognition of his exceptional achievements and pivotal role in shaping the landscape of blood disorder (haematological) research.

The José Carreras Award honours leaders in haematological research. Each year, the European Hematology Association (EHA) Board selects an established and active investigator who has made an important lifetime contribution to haematology. The winner is invited to receive their award and deliver a lecture at the Opening Ceremony of the EHA’s Annual Congress, which this year took place on 13 June in Madrid, Spain. Professor Gribben presented a lecture entitled: “The impact of hematologic malignancies on the host immune system”.

Professor Gribben’s research focuses on leukaemia, bone marrow transplantation and immunotherapy. His group investigates how cancer cells impair the function of the immune system to escape attack. He and his team identified that leukaemia and lymphoma cells disrupt the function of the molecule actin within T cells, interfering with these cells’ ability to communicate with other components of the immune system and launch an effective attack. They discovered that these defects could be reversed with the drug lenalidomide. Based on this work, Professor Gribben led a phase III trial that resulted in the approval of lenalidomide and rituximab (a second immunotherapy) for follicular lymphoma.

John Gribben stands smiling at the viewer, holding a gold medal in a box.
Professor John Gribben

Professor Gribben has also led the introduction of the innovative new immunotherapy CAR-T therapy at Barts Health NHS Trust. In addition, he is investigating how to improve the function of CAR-T therapy, including using drugs called BTK inhibitors, which affect B-cell function.

The José Carreras Award is named in honour of Spanish opera singer José Carreras, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. After initially being given a 1 in 10 chance of survival, Carreras received a bone marrow transplant in 1988 and was able to recover and return to the stage. Following his recovery, Carreras sought to improve the lives of others with leukaemia, founding the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Foundation. The Foundation has supported scholarships and research grants for scientists working in the field, and Carreras has continued to personally support clinical and basic research, including as an honorary member of the EHA.

Category: General News, Grants & Awards

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