The European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, ESGCT, has selected Professor Seppo Ylä-Herttuala as the winner of the 2023 ESGCT Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of his long and successful career in the field of gene therapy research. The Outstanding Achievement Award is the most prestigious award conferred by the ESGCT.
The award is also a major recognition of the gene therapy research conducted at the A.I. Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences in the University of Eastern Finland and at Kuopio University Hospital, which has led to several clinical trials and, in December 2022, to the FDA approval of the first gene therapy drug for the treatment of bladder cancer.
The Outstanding Achievement Award was presented to Ylä-Herttuala on 25 October in the ESGCT Annual Congress held in Brussels. Ylä-Herttuala has also received a similar award from the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, ASGCT.
The development of gene therapy drugs is the result of years of persistent and determined research covering basic research, translational safety and efficacy studies, and early phase clinical trials at Kuopio University Hospital. Over the years, a number of researchers and clinicians have contributed to the research and development of gene therapy drugs, and dozens of doctoral dissertations have been completed on the topic.
In addition to extensive international funding, Seppo Ylä-Herttuala’s research group plays a key role in the GeneCellNano Flagship funded by the Research Council of Finland, which develops next-generation gene, cell and nano-therapy products in collaboration with the Universities of Oulu and Helsinki, Aalto University and the Finnish Red Cross Blood Service. Besides academic research, Seppo Ylä-Herttuala has also played an instrumental role in the commercialisation of research results, as evidenced by FinVector Ltd., Kuopio Center for Gene and Cell Therapy, and Rokote Laboratories Finland, all of which are companies he’s a founder of. The companies currently employ more than 400 high-tech experts in the manufacture and further clinical development of gene and cell therapy drugs.