Past Cell Therapy Training Course Programs

Cell Training Therapy Course, a partnership between ASTCT and ISCT, logo

Cell Therapy Training Course

The biennial ISCT-ASTCT Cell Therapy Training Course aims to address the unfulfilled need for cell therapy training, covering the process of translational research to cell manufacturing and clinical trials in cellular therapy, including regulatory components. The course spans a full week of intensive teaching, collaboration, and networking amongst the Scholars and Faculty. Covering the full spectrum of the cell and gene therapy field from research through development, the CTTC seeks to expose Scholars to those topics that may not have been part of their formal education. Highly competitive, the program selects twelve international scholars to participate in the program.

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CTTC 2015  |  CTTC 2017CTTC 2019

CTTC 2019 - Philadelphia

October 21-25, 2019
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Hosted by The University of Pennsylvania

Thank You to All Who Attended the Third Biennial ISCT-ASTCT Cell Therapy Training Course!


The third biennial ISCT-ASTCT Cell Therapy Training Course brought together a talented cohort of 13 rising stars from around the globe for a comprehensive week-long mentorship program on all things translational cell & gene therapy. Hosted by the world-renowned University of Pennsylvania, the 2019 course program drew on a wealth of local knowledge, infrastructure, and cutting-edge CGT translational research. Local expertise was augmented by keynote lectures from other prominent figures in the field culminating in a robust program that covered the process of translational research to cell manufacturing and clinical trials in cell & gene therapy, including regulatory, quality, and ethical considerations, as well as routes to commercialization. Through a combination of didactic lectures, candid open discussions, a facility tour, and 1-on-1 mentorship from preeminent leaders in the field the 2019 Cell Therapy Training Course offered a multifaceted learning experience unlike any other. Thank you to all who contributed to creating such an exceptional educational opportunity and congratulations to the 2019 CTTC Scholars!

Congratulations to the 2019 CTTC Scholars!

CTTC 2019 scholars

International Scholars

Gabor Foldes, MD, PhD
Imperial College London | United Kingdom
Mentor: Sian Harding

Giulia Golinelli, PhD
University Hospital of Modena and Reggio Emilia | Italy

Mentor: Massimo Dominici 

Andrea Henden, MBBS (Hons), FRACP, FRCPA
QIMR Berghofer | Australia
Mentor: Siok Tey

Gaurav Sutrave, BSc(Med)/MBBS(Hons I) FRACP, FRCPA
Westmead Hospital | Australia
Mentor: David Gottlieb

Robert Myles Wright, MBBS
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre | Australia
Mentor: Simon Harrison

North American Scholars 

Saurabh Dahiya, MBBS 
University of Maryland, USA
Mentor: Aaron Rapoport

Irene Scarfo, PhD 
Massachusetts General Hospital, USA
Mentor: Marcela Maus

Shabnum Patel, PhD
Stanford University, USA
Mentor: Steven A. Feldman, Crystal L. Mackall, David Miklos

Shoba A. Navai
Baylor College of Medicine, USA
Mentor: Meenakshi Hedge

Frederico Simonetta, MD, PhD
Stanford University | USA
Mentor: Robert S. Negrin  

Host Institutional Scholars

Mauro Castellarin, PhD
University of Pennsylvania | USA
Mentor: Carl June

Saba Ghassemi, PhD
University of Pennsylvania | USA
Mentor: Michael C. Milone

Philip C Rommel, Dr. rer.nat.
University of Pennsylvania | USA
Mentor: Carl June


David DiGiusto, PhD
Chief Technical Officer
Semma Therapeutics
Cambridge, MA, United States

John Barrett, MD
Director Stem Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Program,
George Washington Cancer Center,
George Washington University Hospital,
Washington, DC, United States

Planning Faculty Members

Bruce Levine, PhD
Barbara and Edward Netter Professor in Cancer Gene Therapy
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA, United States

Catherine Bollard, MBChB, MD
Professor of Pediatrics and Immunology
Children's National Health System
George Washington University
Washington, DC, United States

Krishna Komanduri, MD
Professor of Medicine and Director
University of Miami Sylvester Cancer Center
Miami, FL, United States 

Colleen Delaney, MD, MSc
Chief Medical Officer
Nohla Therapeutics 
Associate Member, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Associate Professor, University of Washington
Seattle, WA, United States

ISCT Logo ASTCT Logo Penn Medicine Logo
Emily Whitehead Foundation Logo Fresenius Kabi Logo Kite, a Gilead Company, Logo
Legend Biotec Logo Novartis Logo Tmunity Logo

CTTC 2017 - Seattle

October 23-27, 2017
Seattle, Washington, USA

Thanks to all who attended the Second ISCT-ASBMT Cell Therapy Training Course!


The second biennial Cell Therapy Training Course (CTTC), jointly held with ASBMT from Oct 23-27, 2017, was a rousing success. The course spanned a week of intensive teaching, collaboration, and networking amongst the Scholars and Faculty. Covering the full spectrum of the Cellular Therapy field, the CTTC seeks to expose Scholars to those topics that may not have been part of their formal education. As space is limited in the CTTC, and fully funded by ISCT, ASBMT and our generous Industry sponsors, there is an intense competition for the limited number of Scholar opportunities. Thirteen International Scholars, representing five countries, were selected for the CTTC, based on their experience and the strength of their project proposal. We believe that these Scholars represent the future of our field and that the investment in their training will provide dividends throughout their careers. As part of the CTTC, Scholars have access to ISCT and ASBMT Leadership, allowing for interactions that may not otherwise be possible in the limited scope of a Conference or Seminar speaker. Congratulations to the 2017 CTTC Scholars!

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“As a clinical researcher, I had the chance to learn a lot about what goes on behind the curtains. This course has strengthened my understanding of the next generation cellular therapy.”

– Monzr Al Malki, USA

 Co-Chairs John Barrett, MD and David DiGiusto, PhD with the Scholars of the CTTC

Co-Chairs John Barrett, MD and David DiGiusto, PhD with the Scholars of the CTTC.

I came away from this course excited for the future of cell therapy and with a much clearer idea of the way forward for my particular clinical trial proposal.

This was absolutely one of the best courses I have attended. The opportunity to spend a week with faculty who stepped out of the pages of literature to discuss my ideas on cell therapy was a phenomenal privilege. It was extremely well-run and the faculty and my fellow scholars were a wonderful group of people, several of whom I have been in contact with since the course. I am truly grateful to have been selected and cannot recommend this course highly enough to anyone who is starting out in the field of cell therapy.”

– Melanie Grant, USA

Bruce Levine, PhD, Chair of the ISCT Immuno and Gene Therapy Committee discusses T-cell biology with the Scholars

Bruce Levine, PhD, Chair of the ISCT Immuno and Gene Therapy Committee discusses T-cell biology with the Scholars.

“The 2017 Cell Therapy Training Course exceeded my expectations in terms of the course content and the extensive knowledge shared with us by the faculty based on their years of successful experience in complex cell therapy research and actual clinical practice. It was also very enlightening to meet with developing cell therapy researchers like myself with whom I now have established professional relationships in the US, Australia, France and the Netherlands!

– Folashade Otegbeye, USA

Co-Chairs John Barrett, MD and David DiGiusto, PhD surrounded by the Scholars and Faculty of the CTTC

Co-Chairs John Barrett, MD and David DiGiusto, PhD surrounded by the Scholars and Faculty of the CTTC.

“From my side, after having seriously worked on a project proposal in fulfillment of the requirements for the course, I had high expectations on ameliorating the project. This was indeed the beginning, since I was introduced to several aspects of cell therapy I had not deeply reflected on beforehand. The course gave me insight into regulatory, quality systems, practical manufacturing issues, clinical trial design/statistics issues, proper documentation, release testing/product characterization, … I did not realize how multi-disciplinary the approach needs to be, even at early preclinical development stages. The faculty administering the course had deep practical insight and openness to relay their knowledge and experience; qualities I continue to admire in such pioneers in the field. Furthermore, the practical aspects of the course, visiting production facilities and Nohla Therapeutics rounds up the circle in such an education.”

– Bechara Mfarrej, France

International Scholars

Bechara Mfarrej, MS
Research and Development
Institut Paoli-Calmettes
Marseilles, France

Anton Terwisscha van Scheltinga, PhD
Head of Translational Drug Discovery and Development
Leiden University
Leiden, Netherlands

Charan Thej, MS
PhD Student
Manipal University
Bangalore, India

Carrie van der Weyden, MBBS
Haematology Fellow
Peter MacCallum Cancer Center
Victoria, Australia 

Zlatibor Velickovic, PhD
Production Manager
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Sydney, Australia 

Karin Wisskirchen, PhD
Postdoctoral Researcher
Technical University of Munich
Munich, Germany

North American Scholars

Monzr Al Malki, MD
Assistant Professor
City of Hope National Medical Center
Duarte, CA, United States

Felipe Bedoya, MD, PhD
Instructor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Charlestown, MA, United Stated

Mark DeWitt, PhD
Project Scientist
University of California
Berkeley, CA, United States

Melanie Grant, PhD
Research Postdoctoral Fellow
Children's National Medical Center
Washington, DC, United States

Folashade Otegbeye, MBChB, MPH
Clinical Instructor
University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center
Cleveland, OH, United States

Daniel Dever, PhD
Stanford University
Stanford, CA, United States

Host Institution Scholars

Elizabeth Krakow, MD, CM, MSc
Assistant Member
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Seattle, WA, United States

Corinne Summers, MD
Acting Instructor
University of Washington
Seattle, WA, United States

David DiGiusto, PhD
Executive Director
Stem Cell and Cellular Therapeutics Operations
Stanford Healthcare
Stanford, CA, USA

John Barrett, MD
Stem Cell Allotransplantation Section
Hematology Branch
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
Bethesda, MD, USA

Shelly Heimfeld, PhD
SCCA Cellular Therapy Laboratory
Member, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Seattle, WA, USA

Helen Heslop, MD, DSc (Hon)
Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics
Interim Director, Center for Cell and Gene Therapy
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX, USA

Colleen Delaney, MD, MSc
Chief Medical Officer
Nohla Therapeutics
Associate Member, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Associate Professor, University of Washington
Seattle, WA, USA

Lizabeth Cardwell, MT(ASCP), MBA, RAC
Principal Consultant
Compliance Consulting
Seattle, WA, USA 

CTTC 2015 - Houston

September 30 - October 4, 2015
Houston, Texas, USA

Congratulations to the successful Scholars of the inaugural ISCT-ASBMT Cell Therapy Training Course!

International Scholars

David Bishop, MD
Westmead Millennium Institute, Australia
ISCT Scholar

Eleni Gounari, MSc
G. Papanicolaou Hospital, Greece
ISCT Scholar

Roberto Gramignoli, PhD
Karolinska University Hospital, Sweden
bluebirdbio Scholar

Beth Sage, MBBS, MRCP(UK), PhD
University College London, UK
Sanford Health Scholar

Luca Urbani, PhD
UCL Institute of Child Health, UK
Fresenius Kabi Scholar

Inge Westra, PhD
Leiden University Medical Centre, Netherlands
ISCT Scholar

North American Scholars


Neil Dunavin, MD
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institutes
ASBMT Scholar

Christen Ebens, MD, MPH
University of Minnesota
ASBMT Scholar

Everett Meyer, MD, PhD
Stanford Blood and Marrow Transplantation
ASBMT Scholar

Marco Ruella, MD
University of Pennsylvania
Takeda Oncology Scholar

Eric Smith, MD, PhD
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Takeda Oncology Scholar


Grace Christou, MD, MSc
University of Ottawa
CBMTG Scholar

Host Institutional Scholars

Challice Bonifant, MD, PhD
Texas Children's Cancer and Hematology Centers

Jin Im, MD, PhD
MD Anderson Cancer Center

Mireya Velasquez, MD
Baylor College of Medicine

The Inaugural ISCT-ASBMT Cell Therapy Training Course – One Scholar’s Experience

Beth Sage MBBS, PhD
UCL Respiratory
University College London, London, UK

Having been lucky enough to be selected as an international scholar for the inaugural Cell Therapy Training Course I was looking forward to leaving behind the rather disappointing British summer and heading towards the much warmer Houston fall.  Having googled my destination and accommodation I boarded the plane with great excitement and hopes of enjoying the Texan heat whilst exploring the cosmopolitan offerings of America’s fourth largest city – oh and learning something about cell therapy! 

The course, chaired by Dave DiGiusto and John Barrett, was the first of its kind, a joint enterprise between the ISCT and the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation.  Following a competitive selection procedure 12 scholars from all over the world were invited to attend a 5 day intensive workshop with the primary objective of giving junior cell therapy researchers an insight into the process of taking their research project from bench to bedside, including processing, clinical trial design, regulatory requirements, commercialization and ethical research.  Alongside didactic lecture based teaching there were tours of good manufacturing practice (GMP) facilities, both academic and commercial, and most anticipated by the scholars was the opportunity to participate in small group discussions, led by experts in the field, dissecting and improving the individual cell therapy projects.

To break the ice on the ‘light’ first day each scholar gave a short presentation on their project.  It was immediately clear that there is a great breadth of exciting, novel cell therapy projects under investigation throughout the world, from the use of modified T-cells in hematological malignancies to the development of a tissue-engineered oesophagus using amniotic fluid stem cells.  Projects ranged from early pre-clinical to those embarking on a first in man clinical trial and every stage in between, making the session interesting and varied.  Having fought the jet-lag, the session ended with an ice-breaker drinks and dinner before retiring to prepare for the days ahead.

Over the next few days we were exposed to a wealth of information with detailed talks on pre-clinical development of different cell therapies from CD34 cells to mesenchymal stromal cells, quality systems development and one of the most useful from my personal perspective, manufacturing and release testing of different products.  We were able to visit different manufacturing facilities and to understand the processes involved in the production of a clinical grade therapy.  It made us challenge the protocols we were developing in the lab as we gained an insight into how it would scale up into a commercially viable process – a 26 day culture process of autologous cells requiring purification and multiple cytokine stimulations is significantly more challenging (and expensive) than allogeneic cells cultured for 14 days with no manipulation and simple media exchanges. 

Once the process development sessions were complete, we switched gears to look at how to conduct cell therapy clinical trials, covering issues of producing products including normal donors that are used to treat multiple recipients, the challenges of pooling donor cells, how to run multicenter studies and most importantly (although I can say almost universally never thought about by the scholars) how to deal with a regulatory body audit.  This really was a really informative session that opened our eyes to the challenges and complexities of working in the field of cell therapy trials. 

Just when we were beginning to feel that our jobs over the next few years would be focused on clinical trial design, process validation and filling in an endless paper chain of regulatory documents we were brought back to where we all started – the excitement of the translational science.  This was, for me, a really interesting session on the importance of correlative studies not only to assess clinical trial performance but to provide mechanistic insights into the behavior of cells when delivered to patients with disease.  As scientists we can design and perform many experiments to predict how manipulated cells will behave but the most important data of all comes from the patients themselves.  For me, the importance of testing a novel therapy is not just to see if it works but how it works and, just as importantly, if it doesn’t - why.

To end to course, our wise leaders Dave DiGiusto and John Barrett decided to test whether we had been listening, and each scholar had to deliver a detailed presentation on how their project had developed during the course.  Each scholar had to address the potential pitfalls and specific challenges they faced in moving towards the clinic. Whilst many of us stayed up into the small hours worrying about aspects we were previously oblivious to, undoubtedly we found this one of the most rewarding moments.  Despite the potential difficulties we were now aware of, we also felt better placed to solve them and could see a clearer path ahead.

This was without a doubt one of the best courses I have attended.  The chance to talk to so many experts who have really been the trail blazers of cell therapies was invaluable, and although the road ahead is still a challenging one, it seems less scary to navigate with the new supporters we have found. As is so often the case feedback comes down to ‘how likely are you to recommend us to a friend’.  My answer? Extremely likely.

Beth Sage with other CTTC scholars