Prof. Olle Ringden

International Awards

Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence - Cell Therapy
2013-2014

Personal Details/Academic Background:

Prof. Ringdén is currently a distinguished professor at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. For over a decade, he worked as the director then the medical director at the Center for Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation at the Huddinge University Hospital in Stockholm.

After receiving his MD and PhD degrees from the Karolinska Institutet, Ringdén commenced his postdoctoral study at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, USA, in association with Nobel Laureate Donnal Thomas, where he was introduced to the fundamentals of transplantation biology. After his return to Karolinska, he established a stem cell research laboratory, where he, amongst other achievements, pioneered allogenic hematopoetic stem cell transplantation research in Sweden.

With the establishment of the Nordic Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (NMBT), Ringdén assumed a key role in research activities pertaining to proliferating and developing cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) against viral and fungal infections, various (pre-) malignant lesions, and other clinically challenging targets.


Responsibilities and Assignments:

Prof. Ringdén obtained his MD in 1970 and thereafter he progressed in the medical profession through a number of residencies in surgery and clinical immunology at prestigious Swedish healthcare establishments.

The responsibilities of Ringdén represent a rich academic and clinical combination. In academia he moved up from being a postdoctoral research fellow to an assistant professor  and a research docent in clinical immunology, then he became a professor in transplantation biology at the University of Gothenburg.

He was General Secretary for the Expert Committee on Transplantation in the Nordic countries 1983 – 1985. He has been President of the society for Correction of Genetic Disease by Transplantation, and Chairman of the International Bone Marrow Transplant Registry

At the Huddinge University Hospital in Stockholm, Ringdén worked at a number of top positions such as; consultant in bone marrow transplantation, professor in transplantation immunology, director of the bone marrow transplantation program and director of the center for allogeneic stem cell transplantation (CAST) for the period (2003 - 2012) and now he is a distinguished professor at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.


Research and Achievements:

The title of Olle Ringdén’s thesis at Karolinska Institutet (KI) was "Activation of human lymphocyte subpopulations". He pioneered studying the whole human immune system using functional and surface markers to uncover the compartmentalization of this system. Subsequent to this thesis, spleen cells are routinely used for immunological testing of deceased organ donors for transplantation.

Prof. Ringdén developed several immunosuppressive therapies to facilitate peripheral blood stem cell transfer from unrelated donors. He highlighted the potential value of mesenchymal stem cells in various transplantation regimens, and this is one of his numerous achievements in the field of stem cell transplantation. Additionally, he uncovered key facts and potential applications of the ‘graft versus host’ reaction in tumor rejection in the context of colon cancer.

Ringdén was the first to show that survival after Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation (AHSCT) could be similar using unrelated donors compared to HLA-identical siblings by genomic typing and the use of antithymocyte globulin. He also optimized the antithymocyte globuline dose in this context.

Ringdén’s group has been one of few in the world exploring AHSCT as immunotherapy for solid tumors. Ringdén introduced low dose of immunosuppression with early discontinuation to optimize the graft-versus-leukemia effect. Ringdén has also performed a unique study in liver cancer, combining liver transplantation and immunotherapy with AHSCT. Recently, he has shown that two patients with pancreatic carcinoma who underwent Whipple’s surgery and thereafter AHSCT with cells from HLA-identical siblings survived without any signs of tumor seven years after diagnosis. In contrast, 16 patients who didn’t have an HLA-identical sibling and therefore did not undergo AHSCT but received conventional chemotherapy, all died within one year after Whipple’s surgery.

Together with his colleagues, Ringdén developed and evaluated new PCR diagnostics of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and also fungal infection. Moreover, he introduced new treatments, such as Foscarnet for CMV infection, and liposomal Amphotericin B for invasive fungal infections.

Altogether, his outstanding research work is highly recognized in the field, exemplified by high citation rates (>26,000 times). He has been the tutor of 47 PhD theses and 18 Post docs. He has written more than 800 scientific articles (93 in journals with >10 in impact; H-index 81). The ongoing research activities of Ringdén are multifaceted, with a strong focus on important issues of hematopoietic system transplantation. Ringdén has devoted his life to treatment of patients with various life-threatening disorders. By endless hard work during four decades, he has substantial discoveries in a variety of research fields that led to decreased transplantation-related mortality and improved survival.
 

Professional Milestones:

Prof. Ringdén established bone marrow and allogenetic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (AHSCT) in Sweden and designated a research laboratory that for this purpose. This laboratory was the nucleus for what became the Centre for Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation (CAST) in 1999, which is unique for this specialty in Northern Europe.

Ringdén was the first to use mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) for the treatment of life- threatening Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in a 9-year old boy who dramatically responded to MSC from his HLA- haploidentical mother. Ringdén also showed that MSC could heal toxic side-effects, such as severe hemorrhagic cystitis, life-threatening hemorrhages and peritonitis due to colon perforation. Thus, Ringdén opened up a new field using cellular therapy for immune modulation in many immunological disorders.

Ringdén has been one of the leading in the development of Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem-Cell Transplantation (AHSCT) for inborn errors of metabolism. This field was developed through the collaboration with the Correction of Genetic Disease by Transplantation Society. Ringdén was the first to show that Gaucher's disease, Langerhans' cell histiocytosis and adult metachromatic leukodystrophy could be cured or arrested by AHSCT.

Internationally, Ringdén created the Nordic Bone Marrow Transplant Group in 1983, which performed many important prospective randomized studies.
 

Awards and Recognition:

  • Swedish Cancer Society for Young Scientists 1973, 1974, 1976.
  • Swedish Society for Medical Sciences to promising young scientist 1975.
  • The Swedish-American Foundation 1978.
  • Fogarthy International 1978-1979.
  • Swedish Medical Research Council 1980.
  • Roll of Honour, International Union Against Cancer 1996.
  • Honour Member of Piera Cutino Association, University of Palermo, Italy 2000.
  • The Mortimer Bortin Award for outstanding research in bone marrow transplantation 2001.
  • Prize for Best Article published in Scandinavian Journal of Immunology 2004.
  • US Tandem Meeting on BMT, Best Abstract Award 2006 (Ringdén et al).
  • The Van Bekkum Award 2006 (Ringdén et al).
  • The 1st Ulrika Broomé Award for best supervisor at Karolinska University Hospital 2006.
  • The Claes Högman Honorary Lecturer 2007. Hematology Master Class, London 2007.
  • Distinguished Professor Award, Karolinska Institutet 2010 – 2015.
  • Honored by Karolinska Institutet with “The Olle Ringdén Laboratory” 2012.
  • Maharshi Sushruta Award. The Indian Prize in Transplantation Biology, Ahmedabad 2013.
     

Prof Olle Ringdén changed the way immunomodulatory therapy is applied; by using cells from the patient, or from appropriate donors, to re-focus immune responses, heal inflammation, restore and rebuild tissues. This concept is now well embraced and practiced worldwide; helping to save the lives of many patients. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of Cell Therapy Prof. Olle Ringdén is awarded as a co-winner for Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence for the Term 2013-2014.

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