2021 Honorary Members part 4: Professor Ernst Holler
Our final Honorary Member interview for this year congratulates Professor Ernst Holler, who recently (2019) retired as head of the Regensburg SCT Program in Germany. However, he is continuing with his research, as Senior Professor on Translational Research in Allogeneic SCT. In this role he is heading a research group of three clinical scientists, one PhD student in biology and four technicians. He is also holding regular weekly meetings with clinical colleagues to discuss GvHD patients.
His other projects include as Principle or Co-Investigator in Research Projects supported by the German Jose Carrears Leukaemia Foundation (Head of the German MAGIC Biomarker Consortium and the German MAGIC Biomarker Lab), by the DFG (Transregio GvHD/GvL – Project: Role of Enterococci in GvHD and SCT related complication; Cooperative Research Consortium: Microbiota Signatures in the Gastrointestinal Tract – Project: Interaction of microbiota and regulatory T cells in intestinal biopsies of GvHD patients) and the Wilhelm Sander Foundation (Project on inflammation and microbiota related pathways in intestinal biopsies). He is also a mentor of three clinical scientists and seven doctoral students all involved in GvHD and microbiota research.
Finally, he is the principal local investigator in clinical trials on GvHD Treatment: Phase II: Biomarker adapted MAGIC trial on first line treatment of GvHD with high dose steroids and ECP in biomarker defined High Risk patients; Phase II: Treatment of steroid-refractory GvHD with Fecal Microbiota Transplantation.
He has published more than 350 peer reviewed original papers and 50 reviews, mainly related to indication and complications of stem cell transplantation.
Professor Holler first became involved in the EBMT at the beginning of his career in 1980 through his mentor Prof HJ Kolb, first by participating in the annual meeting, then by setting up German trials on TNF-antibodies in GvHD and as a member of the Infectious Diseases and Chronic GvHD Working Parties and the complications subcommittee.
He was the the scientific secretary of the EBMT meeting in 1993, and regularly involved in EBMT educational activities (Educational lectures, Meet the Expert Sessions, Educational meetings outside the Annual Meetings, Outreach project with Bucharest Romania, ESH courses on GvHD and GvL). He also remains a JACIE inspector and was in the board of the National Society of Stem Cell Transplantation.
On the EBMT, Professor Holler says: “The EBMT was always an excellent platform for exchange and scientific discussions providing the opportunity to discuss specific clinical and research questions with colleagues all over Europe. I specifically appreciated that I could discuss patients and unusual courses with colleagues and clinical and scientific friends from all over Europe as everyone is experiencing the hard life of our patients and the ups and downs if you take care of patients. Without the infrastructure and the frame provided by the BMT, this international community would not have been possible.”
On his Honorary Membership, he says: “I felt deeply honoured and grateful that the EBMT board decided to grant this lifetime award to me. I took this award as acknowledgment to all the physicians, the nurses and the staff and all researchers and research assistants who helped me with enthusiasm and patience along this long way of clinical and translational research. I also felt this as an acknowledgment of my way of doing clinical research which always started with clinical and regular observation of patients and asking questions on the pathophysiology behind the symptoms patients are presenting.”