The Inaugural 2019 ESACT Innovation Award

The ESACT Innovation Award is to recognize outstanding innovators and contributors to the field of Animal Cell Culture Technology (ACCT). ESACT has had a profound impact on the development of ACCT-based production of biologicals as human therapeutics as well as diagnostics. Over the years, several landmark contributions have been made by scientists and organizations associated with ESACT, yet, there has not been a mechanism to recognize such contributions and disseminate their impact. This Award aims to fill this need.

For the purpose of this Award and to provide clarity, ESACT defines “Animal Cell Culture Technology” as:

Applied science, technologies, systems and processes that enable, facilitate or improve the use of cultured animal cells in research, diagnostic and therapeutic applications.

The Award is presented at the discretion of the ESACT Award Committee during the ESACT bi-annual Scientific Meeting. The award recipient is invited to present the ESACT Innovation Award Lecture at the ESACT Scientific Meeting immediately following the award presentation. The invitation to attend the ESACT Meeting includes all travel expenses, accommodations during the Meeting and a waiver of registration fees.  The value of the Award will be a sum of 5000 together with a commemorative plaque.

ESACT Executive Committee members, as well as Award Committee members, are ineligible for the Award during the term of their respective Committee membership and for a two-year period thereafter. All other individuals or organizations that satisfy the Award criteria above are eligible for nomination for the Award.

The recipient  Dr. Volker Sandig, MD, PhD

Dr. Sandig is recognized for seminal fundamental and applied research in cell and vector biotechnology, and the development of innovative vaccine technologies. Notably, for instigating and developing the cell-line development program at ProBioGen, AG, which resulted in one of the leading CHO platforms, the co-development of the CHO-Freedom Kit with LTC (now Thermo-Fisher), and the development of glycoengineering technologies, and notably GlymaxX at ProBioGen.

In 1987, Dr. Sandig received his Diploma in Medicine (which corresponds to an MD) from the Second Institute of Medicine (Faculty of Medical Biology), Moscow, Russia, specializing in medical biochemistry. In 1992, he received his Ph.D.  (doctor rerum naturalium) in Molecular Biology from Humboldt University Berlin, Germany. His postdoctoral training from 1992 to 1996 was at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry (Berlin-Buch), Germany, in the group pf Prof. Dr. Michael Strauss. From 1997 to 2000, he was visiting scientist first (in the lab of Tom Caskey, a pioneer gene-therapy lab) and, later, Senior Research Biologist (working on vaccine development) at Merck Research Labs in West Point, PA, USA. He returned to Germany as Vice President for Cell & Vector Biology at ProBioGen AG, Berlin, where he developed the cell-line program of the company. ProBioGen AG is an established Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) and technology provider, which started in 1994 as a diagnostics company. Dr. Sandig currently serves as CSO (Chief Scientific Officer) of ProBioGen.  His work aims to modernize vaccine manufacturing processes through customized design of new cell lines from primary sources that support a wide range of human and animal viruses.