and Head, Hematology Department
Gene and Cell Therapy Centre,
Dr. Achilles Anagnostopoulos is the Director and Head of the
Hematology Department and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation Unit at the G.
Papanicolaou Hospital (GPH/HD-HCT), a tertiary referral center - the largest of
its kind in Greece - with a capacity of 48 beds and a large outpatient clinic.
It has a staff of 22 specialized hematologists, 16 residents in Hematology, 12
biologists, 15 laboratory technicians and 48 trained nurses.
The fields of hematology and stem cell research have always
fascinated Dr. Anagnostopoulos. He has had a long-standing collaboration with
Professors Thalia Papayannopoulou and George Stamatoyannopoulos who introduced
him to ISEH. ISEH’s openness to new ideas originally attracted Dr.
Anagnostopoulos to the organization, and he enjoys attending the ISEH annual
meeting in order to follow the latest developments in stem cell research, meet
international collaborators, and organize future actions.
Dr. Anagnostopoulos is excited by advances being
made in his facility for gene and cell therapy of inherited and acquired
diseases, particularly in gene therapy of thalassemia and GvHD.
Dr. Anagnostopoulos was kind enough to answer some questions
your most influential senior investigator mentor and how did he or she help
I have had the
privilege of working under Professor John Goldman, who guided me in allogeneic
hematopoietic cell transplantation and also gave me the opportunity to receive
training in molecular biology. Further on, I started a close and very
productive collaboration with Professor Stamatoyannopoulos whose mentoring was
instrumental in my career decisions.
How are you
helping to mentor new investigators at your lab/facility?
Our facility has always
encouraged new investigators through active PhD and post-doc programs. In fact,
in the last 12 years, my close collaborators and I personally have supervised
the research activities of 15 PhD students. In addition, our department
provides specialty training for 16 residents in hematology, several of whom
follow a career in laboratory science as well.
experience in the field, how have you seen the field change in the last five
We have come to have a stronger appreciation of
the need for biologically-oriented treatment towards the aim of personalized
medicine; to better define objectives; and, to understand limitations of
existing approaches both in the clinic and the lab.
that the field is going to continue to evolve at an amazing pace. How do you
see it changing over the next five years?
Basic research will increasingly be linked to and
interweaved with clinical practice, posing new challenges, as it will be difficult
to decide what is clinically relevant and worth adopting into routine practice.
What do you
consider the biggest challenge currently facing the hematology and stem cells
scientific field and how can it be managed?
Currently, the biggest challenge is the enormous
cost of novel treatments creating a relevant problem of exclusion and
lab have any big studies or projects planned in the near future?
Yes, we will be holding a clinical trial of gene
therapy for thalassemia.
Why did you
decide to pursue your research career in your native country?
I am deeply committed to helping Greece as best as
I can in both research and health administration.
the challenges and the rewards of working as a researcher in Greece?
Living in a country spending too little on
research, it is evidently very difficult and frequently frustrating to follow a
career in science. Nonetheless, he who dares wins.
you describe the funding climate in your country for biomedical research in
general and for your specific type of research in particular?
National funding is limited, especially in this
time of financial crisis.
do you have for new investigators that are considering returning to your
country to conduct research in general and in your field of expertise?
They have to be prepared to be patient, inventive
and willing to pursue collaborations.
do you have for your government to recruit high level researchers?
They should focus on the needs, well-defined
positions, and motivation.