Science and Research

For the future of science and research

Support for young medical and scientific talents is a critical investment in the future. For this reason, the DKMS Foundation for Giving Life awards the John Hansen Research Grant (formerly: Mechtild Harf Research Grant).

Last updated: 02/15/2021

Launched in 2015, the John Hansen Research Grant (known until 2019 as the Mechtild Harf Research Grants) is intended to provide financial support to as many as four talented young scientific researchers. The grants are worth $270,000 (or €240,000) for each recipient, spread over a period of three years. Applicants must have completed their doctorate within the last 12 years. The research area of the project they submit should be in the field of stem cell therapy, and it must aim to effectively support and advance the fight against blood cancer long-term.

In 2019, the grants were renamed in honor of John A. Hansen, who dedicated his life’s work to the causes of graft-versus-host disease and the fight against it. Hansen was an outstanding oncologist, an excellent immunogeneticist at the renowned Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and a compassionate and empathetic physician. His outstanding achievements in the field of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation were instrumental in making blood stem cell and bone marrow transplants more effective and safer – giving numerous patients a second chance at life.

As a long-standing member of the Board of the DKMS Stiftung Leben Spenden (Foundation for Giving Life) and the DKMS Medical Council, Hansen was an integral part of the DKMS family. That is why, after he passed away on July 31, 2019, at the age of 76, the Mechtild Harf Research Grants were renamed in his honor.

Next call for applications starts August 2021

For further information, please contact

Description of the grant

The John Hansen Research Grant awards $270,000 (or €240,000), over a period of three years (maximum €80,000/$90,000 per year), subject to reasonable progress of the research. Up to four projects will be selected from among the eligible applications.

Research scope
The research proposal must address issues on hematopoietic stem cell transplantation or cell therapy. Various aspects can be covered, including but not limited to: diagnostic and therapeutic strategies, transplant immunology, stem cell transplantation complications, donor selection or cell manufacturing.

Qualifications of the applicant/principal investigator

Applicants must have obtained a doctorate, a PhD., MD, or equivalent in a field relevant to the award within the last twelve years (plus one year per child for mothers). Applicants do not need to hold a faculty position and can be in training (Fellows, Postdoctoral Fellows, and Junior Faculties). Applicants from all countries are invited to submit an application.

Selected projects 2020

The DKMS Stiftung Leben Spenden (Foundation for Giving Life) is supporting international blood cancer research with four research grants with a combined value of €1 million. The John Hansen Research Grant 2020 has been awarded to four physicians and young scientists – two from the US, one from Switzerland, and one from the Netherlands – to support their promising scientific research projects in the field of blood cancer and stem cell transplantation. Two of the four projects involve CAR-T cells, another one is investigating how DNA methylation regulates the immune cells and the fourth one is focussing on the optimal stem cell source for transplantation. DKMS Stiftung Leben Spenden provides the funding for a period of three years.

Dr. Cynthia Perez of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV) in Lausanne
Project title: “Exploiting SLAMF7 self-interactions to provide additional co-stimulation to CAR-T cells against multiple myeloma”

Dr. Andrea Schmidts of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Charlestown
Project title: “CRISPR-based Modeling of Genetic Resistance to CAR-T Cell Therapy for Multiple Myeloma”

Dr. Mirjam Belderbos of the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology in Utrecht
Project title “What is the optimal stem cell source for transplantation? Population dynamics of post-transplant hematopoiesis using single cell analysis of somatic mutations”

Dr. Yiouli Ktena of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore
Project title: “Defining the role and targets of T cell DNA methylation in control of graft-versus-host disease and the graft-versus-tumor effect after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation”

Selected projects 2015 - 2019

2015 Jarrod Dudakov
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Seattle)
Developing strategies to enhance T cell reconstitution after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

2015 Luca Vago
Fondazione Centro San Raffaele (Milan)
Novel Approaches to Decipher the Biological Mechanisms of Post-Transplantation Leukemia Relapse

2016 Angela Jacobi
Technische Universität Dresden
Evaluation of mechanical properties as a novel marker to characterize and to sort human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells for transplantation

2016 l-Kang Na
Charité- Universitätsmedizin Berlin
The role of the bone marrow vascular niche for memory immunity after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

2017 Frederik Damm
Charité- Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Influence of Donor Clonal Hematopoiesis in Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation

2017 Hendrik Poeck
Klinikum rechts der Isar (Munich)
PROTECTOR” - PROtecting The barrier by Engagement of CyTOsolic nucleic acid Receptors

2018 Pietro Crivello
University Hospital Essen
Impact of HLA-DM mediated peptidome editing on the immunogenicity of HLA-DP alloantigens

2018 Elke Rücker-Braun
Technische Universität Dresden
NPM1mut-specific TCRs for immunotherapy in acute myeloid leukemia

2019 May Daher
MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston)
CIS checkpoint deletion in cord blood derived iC9.CAR19.IL-15-NK cells for the treatment of B-cell hematologic malignancies

2019 Natalie Köhler
Universtitätsklinikum Freiburg
Defensins as a Potential Treatment Option for Acute Graft-versus-Host Disease

2019 Kate Markey
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York)
Investigating the role of the microbiota in chronic GVHD and immune reconstitution after HCT

2019 Katarina Riesner
Charité- Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Mechanisms and therapeutic targets of endothelial damage during GVHD

Mechtild Harf Research Grant becomes John Hansen Research Grant

Out of appreciation and gratitude the DKMS Stiftung Leben Spenden renamed its research program, with which it promotes highly talented junior scientists every year: The Mechtild Harf Research Grant is now called the John Hansen Research Grant.

Find more information here.

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