Reflecting on EBMT24 with Judith: A Recap from Glasgow

By Galapagos

About EBMT and the EBMT Congress

The EBMT (European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation) is a non-profit organization established in 1974. They host a unique patient registry and aim to connect patients, researchers, and stakeholders to advance cellular and stem cell-based therapies. The EBMT community is dedicated to innovation and research to improve the lives of patients with blood-related disorders.

The Annual Meeting of the EBMT attracts over 5,500 participants, including healthcare professionals from various fields, patients, and representatives from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The congress fosters dialogue, information exchange, education, and scientific productivity.

Judith Raaijmaker (Associate Director Site Strategy) was at EBMT 2024 and shares her experience

This year’s congress took place in Glasgow, Scotland, and Galapagos was present with a booth, 4 abstracts and 2 oral presentations on our 2 CD19* programs. We were also featured in an invited talk given by one of our collaborators from Sanquin. And of course, there was a Galapagos team attending the meeting to cover the booth, follow the sessions and interact with our principal investigators (PI’s)s and other stakeholders that were present.


We talked to Judith Raaijmakers (Associate Director Site Strategy), who attended the congress.

Galapagos (G): Judith, you recently returned from a 4-day stint in Glasgow to attend EBMT 2024. Can you describe the overall atmosphere and energy of the event?

Judith (J): The atmosphere at EBMT24 was vibrant and engaging. It’s a really nice experience to see the hematology community coming together to share advances in science, and more specifically in cell therapy. It gives you a sense of belonging, being part of a bigger movement looking to help patients. In contrast to the bigger annual hematology events of EHA and ASH, EBMT is a smaller and more focused congress, so it is fairly easy to connect with all the stakeholders.

The Galapagos team at our EBMT 2024 booth

G: Why is it important for a biotech like Galapagos to be present at these congresses?

J: Participating in events like the EBMT congress allows us to showcase our innovative, decentralized approach to cell therapy manufacturing and to familiarize stakeholders with our clinical work. It also helps to reinforce our reputation as a leading biotech company committed to advancing patient care through cutting-edge science and technology.

Being present helps to further build our network of locations which we could include in our clinical network. And last but not least: it gives us the chance to get feedback from our stakeholders directly. Understanding the questions they have, the solutions they are looking for and what they want to achieve is crucial information, which is very valuable for us in return.

G: Does it strengthen our relationships with key stakeholders, such as researchers, clinicians and potential partners?

J: Absolutely. These interactions foster trust, build relationships, and open doors to future collaborations that can further our mission of improving patient outcomes. Our teamhad many conversations at our booth. You know, virtual meetings are great, but if you spoke to someone, shook their hand or shared a coffee, you have a lasting connection. Building these connections is almost as important as getting the word out on our decentralized manufacturing model.

Lots of interested visitors at the Galapagos booth during EBMT 2024

G: Can you share any memorable interactions or conversations you had?

J: One memorable interaction that comes to mind, is one I had with clinicians who were interested in learning more about our decentralized manufacturing platform. They were curious about its potential impact on patient care and were eager to explore opportunities for collaboration. A lot of them have not seen decentralized manufacturing, and they are very open to the concept and its potential for patients.

Our colleague Esmée (with the green sweater) presented her first poster for Galapagos

When they see the video about our approach on our booth’s screen, they often refer to our setup as something futuristic, or they even mention it reminds them of the Sci-Fi series ‘Star Trek’. When there is  this level of excitement, it’s fun to start explaining what we do.

Of course, we do get questions about scalability, stability, training, … All kinds of topics come up, but it is very rewarding to engage with them and share our vision for the future of cell therapy manufacturing. And even more so if I see that lightbulb moment happening in front of me. It’s the moment they see what we see.

Another memorable moment was the poster presentation of our colleague Esmée. It was her first time for Galapagos, and the first time working in the industry, so it was quite a special moment for her and for the team. She did really well, so we’re proud of her!

G: What are some key takeaways or learnings you personally gained from attending the EBMT congress?

J: Personally, attending EBMT24 provided valuable insights into the latest advancements and trends in CAR-T. There were some interesting discussions on decentralized manufacturing and disparities in access, but also some great scientific talks about  the potential of next-generation CAR designs, and hopeful advances in the field of solid tumors.

There’s so much going on, it’s truly inspiring to see the passion and dedication of researchers, clinicians and the industry, all working hard to improve patient outcomes.

G: Is going to these events also fun for the Galapagos colleagues? Or is it work only?

J: While attending these events requires focus, and it is hard work, it’s also enjoyable for us, yes. It’s an opportunity to connect with colleagues and peers, share ideas, and celebrate our collective achievements. Plus, being surrounded by individuals who share a common goal of advancing science for the benefit of patients makes it a rewarding experience.

And as we had a colleague among us who is from Glasgow, we were able to share a nice meal at a typical pub, which was a great way to close off a busy and rewarding congress.

G: Sounds great, thanks for the conversation Judith!

*CD19 is a protein found on the surface of certain white blood cells called B cells, playing a crucial role in immune function. In the realm of cancer therapy, CD19 is a target of interest due to its presence on cancerous B cells in diseases like leukemia and lymphoma. Galapagos has ongoing clinical programs focusing on CD19 as a modality in CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T-cell) therapy. CAR-T therapy involves modifying a patient’s own immune cells to recognize and destroy cancer cells expressing CD19, offering a potentially promising avenue for personalized cancer treatment.

Judith Raaijmakers

Associate Director Site Strategy

Our approach is often viewed as futuristic. People even mention it reminds them of the Sci-Fi series ‘Star Trek’. When there is this level of excitement, it’s fun to start explaining what we do.

Oncology and Immunology

Our disease areas

We know that patients in need are waiting. That is why we focus on therapeutic areas where we aim to make transformational impact happen faster, including oncology and immunology.

Pioneering for patients

Galapagos’ Pipeline

Focusing on high unmet medical needs, we synergize compelling science, technology, and collaborative approaches to create a deep pipeline of best-in-class small molecules, CAR-T therapies, and biologics in oncology and immunology.