Press Release

Alicante-Winter Immunology Symposium in Health (A-WISH) and the Boulle-SEI awards:
New cancer-targeted immunotherapies present first-ever encouraging results.

Alicante 14 December

 The Jean Boulle Group is pleased to announce the third edition of the International Symposium on Immunology and Health (A-WISH) and the Boulle-SEI awards organized by the Spanish Society of Immunology (SEI) and the University of Alicante (UA), with the collaboration of the International Union of Immunological Societies, (IUIS). 

The symposium brought together over 150 immunologists from over the world to promote and present the results of the development and advancement of immunology through innovative therapeutic approaches to treat cancer and other immune-based diseases. The symposium addressed the critical role of 1) cellular therapies; including of (CAR)-expressing T cells, NK and macrophages; 2) small-molecule and immune checkpoint inhibitors; and 3) nanotherapy and mRNA vaccines against cancer, infection, autoimmunity and transplantation. Among the attendees were Marcela Maus from Harvard University and the Director of the Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO), Dr. Maria Blasco. 

As part of the symposium the third consecutive Boulle-SEI Awards recognized the research team that transformed our understanding and treatment of immune based disease and endowed them with €50,000. These awards honor the Royal Philanthropic Vaccine Expedition led by the surgeon from Alicante, Francisco Javier de Balmis and Isabel Zendal between 1803 and 1806 and are intended to recognize the team behind the work, rather than the individual. 

Leighton Durham, Executive Director of Trained Therapeutix Discovery and representative of the Jean Boulle Group, said: 

“Our Group is delighted to continue our support of inspiring research in the field of immunology around the world for the third year. The research conducted is invaluable for the diagnosis and treatment of immune system pathologies and on behalf of the Jean Boulle Group, I congratulate the winners of the 2023 Boulle-SEI Awards. We would also like to thank the judges and all the organizations involved in the administration of the symposium for creating such a successful event”. 

Highlights of the symposium: 

1. CRIS Foundation against cancer participated in the symposium in an educational workshop for fifth grade students from CEIP EL SALVADOR to promote science among the youngest. 

2. The symposium included a training program through a scientific session with sessions and poster presentations to encourage the exchange of ideas between doctoral students and medical residents. 

3. The opening ceremony of the symposium was hosted by the Presidents of the Spanish Society of Immunology (Marcos López-Hoyos and Silvia Sanchez), the Rector of the 

University of Alicante (Amparo Navarro), the president of the symposium (Jordi Ochando) and The Jean Boulle Group (Leighton Durham). 

4. During the opening ceremony, the “TRAIN YOUR IMMUNITY” Awards were presented, an outreach campaign by the Spanish Society of Immunology (SEI) to promote sport as a fundamental element to strengthen the immune system. 

5. The scientific program focused on research into immune therapies that are yielding important results, such as CAR-Ts, antibodies and nanotherapies. 

6. Within the framework of this symposium and for the third consecutive year, the Spanish Society of Immunology (SEI) and the Jean Boulle Group recognized scientists for their seminal contribution to research, diagnosis and treatment of immune system pathologies through the “BOULLE-SEI Awards”. 

Third Boulle-SEI Awards 

The third Boulle-SEI Awards, created and supported by the Jean Boulle Group and Spanish Society of Immunology (SEI), recognize scientific excellence in Immunology. The awards aim to recognise the work of research, diagnosis and treatment of immune system pathologies. 

Guido Kroemer in the Balmis category and Laurance Zitvogel in the Zendal category are winners of the Boulle-SEI Awards and they will each receive an endowment of €50,000. 

The Boulle-SEI Awards were inspired by the Royal Philanthropic Vaccine Expedition led by the Alicante surgeon Francisco Javier de Balmis between 1803 and 1806, and the invaluable role of the scientist Isabel Zendal, without whom the expedition would not have been completed. 

These awards highlight the work of research teams from around the world as well as highlighting the talent of women scientists and their leadership in research groups in the field of immunology. 

Prize Awardees: 

  • Laurance Zitvogel, M.D., Ph.D. is a professor at the University Paris Saclay, and graduated in Medical Oncology in 1992. Her scientific career first started at the University of Pittsburgh (USA) and in in 1998 she became Research Director at Institut National de la Santé et Recherche Médicale (U1015) and Scientific Director of the Clinicobiome program at Gustave Roussy in Paris, the largest Cancer Center in Europe. She actively contributed to the field of cancer immunology and immunotherapy and pioneered the concepts of immunogenic cell death and gut microbiota in cancer immunosurveillance and therapies. Dr. Zitvogel has received many awards, including French National Academy of Medicine, Translation Research INSERM Prize, the ASCO-SITC, Brupbacher Awards 2017, ESMO Immuno-Oncology Award 2017, Baillet Latour Prize 2019 and the Griffuel Prize 2019. 
  • Guido Kroemer Ph.D. is currently Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Paris, Director of the research team “Metabolism, Cancer and Immunity” of the French Medical Research Council (INSERM), Director of the Metabolomics and Cell Biology platforms of the Gustave Roussy Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Hospital Practitioner at the Hôpital Européen George Pompidou in Paris (France). Dr. Kroemer’s work focuses on the pathophysiological implications of cell stress and death in the context of aging, cancer and inflammation. With close to 1600 articles including publications in Cell, Nature, Nature Medicine, Science and Science Translational Medicine and an h-index of 281, he is Europe’s most cited researcher in biomedical research. His contributions have been recognized with multiple awards including the most prestigious cancer research prizes from Belgium (Baillet-Latour Health Prize), France (Prix Duquesne, Prix Léopold Griffuel, Grand Prix Ruban Rose) and Switzerland (Brupbacher Prize), the European Union-sponsored Descartes Prize, as well as the most important Italian science prize (Lombardia & Ricerca Prize). He received two European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Investigator Awards. Dr. Kroemer is the founding Editor-in-Chief of six journals: Cell Death & Disease, Cell Stress, OncoImmunology, MedComm Cancer, Microbial Cell, and Molecular & Cellular Oncology. He is member of the European Academy of sciences, the European Academy of cancer Sciences, the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences and he is the Founding President of the European Academy of Tumor Immunology. 

About “Train your immunity” Awards 

The “Train your immunity” Awards presented by the Spanish Society of Immunology, promoted how fundamental sport is in strengthening the immune system. 

Prize Awardees: 

  • Jennifer Hermoso has been a senior international player since 2012 with the Spanish national team, of which she is its all-time top scorer. Considered one of the best players in Spanish soccer, she has won one Champions League, seven league championships and five Queen’s Cups. She has also won the Spanish championship’s top scorer award on five occasions. A prolific goal scorer, in 2020 she became the top scorer in the history of Fútbol Club Barcelona and in 2021 she received the Silver Ball. On August 20, 2023, she was proclaimed World Champion with Spain’s senior women’s national team, scoring three goals and two assists, receiving the tournament’s Silver Ball. 
  • Eva Navarro has been an international player with Spain since 2019 and was World Champion in 2023 with the senior national team, and European and World Champion with Spain U-17. She won the Queen’s Cup with Atlético de Madrid in 2023. 
  • Sandra Paños has played as goalkeeper for F. C. Barcelona since 2015. Considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world, she has won four league titles, five Queen’s Cups, three Spanish Super Cups and two Champions League titles with Barcelona. On an individual level, the Alicante native has won the Zamora trophy as the least-scored goalkeeper in La Liga on four occasions. At the national team level, she was a starter at the World Cup in 2019, and at the European Championship in 2017 and 2022. 
  • Sara Mérida played as a teenager in Espanyol won twice the Copa de la Reina and once the Copa Catalunya. As a youth international with Spain she won the U-17 European Championship and came third in the U-17 World Cup in 2010. Despite her youth success, she retired at 21 after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament four times. With the start of the Queens League in 2023, Sara was named MVP of two Queens Cup matches, as well as playoff MVP. 
  • Dolores Romero is the general manager of the female Club Atlético de Madrid team. Lola has been Spanish champion in judo and played in the Spanish national team indoor soccer. Lola actively participates as a speaker in talks and debates on women’s sports and their professionalization. 

For more information and interview management: 

PRESS Spanish Society of Immunology 

Esther Sevilla
+34 663 720 802 

Jean Boulle Group 

Audrey Richardson 

+352 222 512 

Media – Aura Financial 

Michael Oke/Andy Mills 

+44 207 321 0000 

About the Spanish Society of Immunology 

The Spanish Society of Immunology is a non-profit medical society that represents the interests of immunology in Spain in the hospital, teaching and research field. Its main purpose is to promote the development and advancement of immunology as a science of life and health, facilitate the contact of its associates with each other and with other 

scientists or related entities, contribute to the training and professional improvement of the specialty and defend scientific interests of its associates. 

About the University of Alicante 

The University of Alicante is a public institution of higher education committed to quality training, research, dissemination and knowledge transfer. It is one of the few Spanish universities that appear among the top 600 positions in the prestigious Shanghai Ranking. It currently offers 52 undergraduate degrees, 5 of them double degrees, 6 simultaneous study programs and 12 international double degree programs with universities in the United States, Germany and Brazil. It is a face-to-face, open, supportive, inclusive, responsible and transparent university that relies on technological transformation for the promotion of its strategic objectives. 

About the Jean Boulle Group 

The Jean Boulle Group’s interests span a wide range of areas; but they focus mainly on natural resources, medical technology, therapy and philanthropy. Since its founding by Jean-Raymond Boulle, the Group has completed transactions with a combined value of more than US$5 billion. 

Boulle Therapeutics, part of the Group, invests in innovative techniques for the treatment of harmful diseases. Boulle Therapeutics identifies, invests in and supports the development of early-stage innovations that have the potential to save lives and improve the quality of life for a large number of people over many generations. One such Boulle Therapeutics company is Trained Therapeutix Discovery, Inc. (TTxD)- 

Traditionally, it has been assumed that immunological memory is located exclusively in our adaptive immune system. The pioneering work of TTxD’s scientific founders, Mihai Netea and Leo Joosten, has revealed that the innate immune system also has adaptive characteristics. This de facto innate immune memory is called “trained immunity.” The other scientific founders are: Jordi C. Ochando, Ph.D Professor at the Icahn Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York; Willem Mulder Ph.D. Professor of Precision Medicine at Eindhoven University of Technology; and Zahi Fayad, Ph.D. Lucy G Moses Professor of Bioengineering and Medical Genes.