Awards & Recognition

Darwin J. Prockop Mentoring Award

Headshot of Darwin Prockop

About the Award

Dr. Darwin J. Prockop, MD PhD is an eminent biochemist and pioneer in the field of adult stem cell biology and cellular therapy whose career has spanned over 6 decades. Darwin has received numerous awards and recognition for his seminal contributions to science including appointment to the National Academies of Science and Medicine and the inaugural ISCT Career Achievement Award. Over his career, Darwin has mentored many trainees who have subsequently gone on to prominent careers in both academia and industry and has further positively influenced countless others through his science and scholarly activities. As a mentor, Darwin exudes intense enthusiasm and joy for science and inquiry, possesses a keen sense of where success might be found, and most importantly is a strong proponent of good ideas and good science irrespective of their origins.

ISCT is delighted to bestow the Darwin J. Prockop Mentoring Award on a brilliant and compassionate individual who, like Darwin, has positively served as a mentor and role model in shaping and promoting the careers of the next generation.

2022 Award Recipient:



Patricia Rocco, MD, PhD
Patricia is a Full Professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a researcher for the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, Brazil as well as Past Regional VP, South & Central America for the society. The judging panel recognized her pioneering respiratory research, including her discoveries in new therapeutic strategies for respiratory diseases. Her students and past mentees reported to the panel that mentoring for Patricia ‘is not part of the job, it is the job’. Known for her relentless motivation and enthusiastic leadership skills, she was instrumental in empowering students to innovate, establish collaborations, present their work, and provided the guidance and opportunities for her mentees to secure their education and careers both nationally and internationally. Read Full Press Release

Eligibility Criteria: Nominees for the Darwin J. Prockop Mentoring Award are considered eligible provided they fulfill the following criteria:

  • Must have mentored at least 5 individuals
  • Nominations may be submitted by either the nominee (self-nomination) or others
  •  The Award is open to all who have excelled as a mentor in the cell and gene therapy field. The Awardee must be an ISCT member at the time of public acceptance of the award
  • Current members of the ISCT Awards Committee and Board of Directors are not eligible to be nominated for the Award
  • Nominee must be an individual (institutions or organizations are not eligible for this award)
  • Previous Darwin J. Prockop Mentoring Award winners are not eligible 
  • The Award shall not be conferred posthumously

Nomination and Selection Process:

  1. Nominators
    1. The nominator must be a current ISCT member
    2. The nominator may not be a current member of the Awards Committee nor the Board of Directors
  2. Nominations may be submitted via the ISCT Awards web portal or emailed to isct@isctglobal.org before the deadline
    1. Nominations must include:
      1. Name of nominee, designation and affiliations
      2. A 1-page narrative outlining the reasons for the nomination
      3. 3 – 5 letters of support from mentees combined into one PDF. The letters of support must:
        • Detail summary of the mentee’s current job (position/title)
        • Explain how the nominee helped them with the mentee’s career development
      4. Name of nominator and contact details
      5. CV and/or additional nomination materials may be requested by the Awards Committee
  3. The deadline for nominations is January 31, 2022
  4. The Awards Committee will evaluate candidates on their achievement(s) and overall contribution to mentoring in the field of cellular therapy
  5. A recommendation will be submitted by the Awards Committee to the Board of Directors for final consideration and approval.
  6. Selection of the Recipient will be made based solely on the merit of their scientific accomplishments without regard to race, gender, nationality or religious or political views

Past Recipients

Dr. Catherine Bollard

The International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy is proud to present the inaugural 2021 Darwin J. Prockop Mentoring Award to Catherine Bollard, MBChB, MD, for her dedication and service to her colleagues and the field.

Dr. Catherine Bollard is a world-renowned expert in immunotherapies for cancer, whose work focuses on the deployment of cell therapies to strengthen the immune system against cancer and other inflammatory diseases. In conjunction with her leading-edge work in the lab and clinic, Dr. Bollard has demonstrated a consistent drive to enhance the opportunities and growth of those who work with her through mentorship, and has been a key leader in the cell and gene therapy space through roles across several major organizations including FACT presidency and ISCT past presidency.

But how did she get here?

Dr. Bollard’s passion for cell and gene therapy stems from a painful moment, when her best friend in high school had passed away due to complications from EBV+ Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment. Despite entering remission, the treatment options available at the time had difficult side effects and outcomes for patients. The story of her best friend would drive Dr. Bollard to work with cellular therapies, and eventually, to work with several established mentors in the field: Drs. Helen Heslop, Cliona Rooney, and Malcolm Brenner.

Within this team, Dr. Bollard would find early successes, including a novel and successful cell-based therapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Thinking back, she attributes the effectiveness of this team, and the momentum built from her early success, to the selflessness of several mentors who provided advice not only around careers and science, but also around life.

“In working with translational science, especially in cell and gene therapy, a cohesive and effective team is critical,” she says. “Part of this lies in having a breadth of scientific expertise, but team effectiveness is also built on mutual trust, support, and on mentors being ready to pitch in with ‘boots on the ground’.”

Dr. Bollard recalls this perspective being driven home by a particularly poignant moment in her life, when her father had passed away just before the deadline of her first PO1 as a co-principal investigator. During a moment of difficult grief and complex deadlines, her mentors Helen, Malcolm, and Clio stepped in with ‘boots on the ground,’ working to help edit, write, and offer both project-based and emotional support to ensure that the critical project deadline could be met.

Moments like these continue to inspire Dr. Bollard’s approach to mentorship today. Recognizing that early career life comes with balancing commitments in writing, scientific analysis/design, long-term goal setting, and financial and emotional challenges, she adopts a supportive approach based on building trust, being consistently ready to step in, and prioritizing the mentee, especially when it comes to career-builders like authorship.

“Watching my mentees (clinical, basic, and translational) give their first talks as grad students/fellows and then seeing their rise to symposium speakers at national and international meetings is so rewarding,” says Dr. Bollard, reflecting on the impacts of being a mentor. “…at a personal level, listening to the struggles we all face in science and medicine and balancing the stressors of home life and work, and just taking the time to listen and supporting them through the process brings true meaning to my role as a mentor.”

Thinking generationally across cell and gene therapy, Dr. Bollard points to the need for mentors and their mentees to stay grounded: “…in our field, it was hard to find a critical mass of (especially) academic physician-scientists in the generation ahead of me who had a durable marriage/life partner relationship, children, NIH-funded laboratories, and clinical responsibilities,” she reflects, thinking towards life around the lab. “While we are still in the minority, there are more of ‘us’ in my generation to build that ‘critical mass,’ which I see as so incredibly important as we groom the next generation of scientists and physician-scientists to develop and lead the next ‘first in human’ cell and gene therapy trials from bench to bedside and beyond.” While the science races ahead, Dr. Bollard stresses that it is critically important not to lose sight of the people behind the profession. For mentors in particular, being mindful of the factors that build resilient lives outside of the lab will mean that teams develop trust, and become more effective in their mission.

She ends with a few words to take away, “No matter what one chooses to do as a career, it is critically important that you are, above all, passionate about what you do and the career choices you have made, as well as your vision for the future. This will get you up in the morning, and hopefully, inspire your mentees to build the same degree of passion and vision for the work! A successful career is always a combination of luck, serendipity, and a lot of hard work and we must always learn to roll with the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’, understanding that sometimes good things may come easily, and other times, they may not. And, for sure, sometimes everything may seem to be depressingly hard, especially around manuscript or grant rejections. But at the end of the day, don’t lose sight of what inspires your passion. And never forget to take the time to sit back, listen, and above all, to have fun.”