CARAT training fellowship – Maria Themeli

Advancing the translation of scientific findings

About Maria:

Dr. Maria Themeli (35) studied cancer-fighting T cells, which may be genetically targeted or otherwise modified to augment their potency and persistence. She completed her postdoctoral studies at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Nowadays, she works as Assistant Professor at VUmc Cancer Center Amsterdam in the Netherlands, where she started her own research group within the Hematology department in 2017. The aim of the group is to develop advanced immunotherapy for patients with malignant blood diseases and other forms of cancer as an effective, accessible weapon against cancer.



I had read a lot about Miltenyi Biotec’s latest work regarding decentralization of CAR T cell production and found it a very interesting concept. And since my department is thinking about setting up a CAR T cell trial, we were very interested to learn more about the potentials of Miltenyi Biotec’s CliniMACS Prodigy Platform. So, I applied for last year’s CARAT training event on GMP-compliant CAR T cell manufacturing.

As one of five selected participants from all around the world, I was finally traveling to Miltenyi Biotec´s headquarter in Germany in December 2017. I was really excited about learning more about their concept and getting unique insights into the company’s trial experiences. The five-day training event was a fantastic mix of practical, regulatory, and scientific contents. Not only did I gain deep practical experience via extensive hands-on exercises on the CliniMACS Prodigy Platform, but I also learned a lot about the regulatory environment for CAR T cell manufacturing in Europe, like trial design, approval, or IMPD (Investigational Medicinal Product Dossier).

I am so glad that I had the opportunity to participate in the CARAT training event last year. It was a priceless experience and invaluable support. Even though we still have no CliniMACS Prodigy Intrument in our institute, the training made me think about further potential applications of this system, initiating new scientific ideas for future CAR T therapies. Moreover, by visiting Miltenyi Biotec’s GMP facility and talking to company experts on GMP regulations, I was able to build up an essential knowledge base that helps me in planning and setting up our new GMP facility in Amsterdam now.

Overall, the training completely exceeded my expectations. It is a unique platform for learning, sharing, and networking that every scientist, especially if involved in setting up clinical trials, should try to be a part of. Because after all, translation of our scientific findings is the ultimate goal.

So, if you are active in cellular and gene therapy, I strongly recommend applying for the next event happening December 10–14, 2018. Don’t miss it and apply before June 30 at https://carat-horizon2020.eu/fellowship/