It is my pleasure as chairman of the Roche Organ Transplantation Research Foundation (ROTRF), to inform you about the highlights of our activities in 2011.

Beside the traditional grant award competitions, which saw 17 investigators being awarded grants, which I will discuss later, this year has seen the recognition of 11 ROTRF grantees with a ROTRF Recognition Prize.

In 2010, the Trustees invited all ROTRF grant recipients to participate in a survey presenting the results of their ROTRF-funded projects. The Trustees were very impressed with the overwhelming amount and quality of data and publications produced by ROTRF grant recipients over the years. The Trustees were pleased to have been able to fund areas of transplantation that are often not funded and young investigators who would have otherwise faced difficulties pursuing their ideas and establishing their research programmes. From the time of the first awards in March 1999 until the end 2011, the ROTRF has supported almost 260 important and innovative projects in basic science and clinical research applicable to the understanding and care of human organ transplant recipients and related tissue transplants. The ROTRF Recognition Prizes were awarded to investigators whose ROTRF-funded projects had a major impact on the field of transplantation and whose achievements best exemplify the mission of the ROTRF. The award-winning projects spanned a wide range of topics, such as induction of tolerance, the role of regulatory T cells and anti-inflammatory molecules in graft acceptance, the role of innate and adaptive immunity in allograft rejection, and immunology of CMV infection and T cell allorecognition. The Trustees also recognise that there are several promising and important projects currently ongoing, which will likely impact on clinical practice in the years to come.

The recipients of the ROTRF Recognition Prize were invited to present the results of their ROTRF-funded research at the ROTRF-sponsored satellite symposium „ROTRF Recognition Prize – Recognising Excellence in Organ Transplantation Research“ at the American Transplant Congress 2011 in Philadelphia. As in the past, this symposium was very well attended and the audience was rewarded with excellent and very interesting presentations, which prompted questions and stimulating discussions.

As for the grant award competitions in 2011, 8 grants were awarded in Cycle XXV while the ROTRF Board of Trustees and the Scientific Advisory Committee selected 9 outstanding projects for funding in Cycle XXVI. The main criteria for the evaluation of the proposals were scientific merit and originality, with particular attention being paid to the relevance of the question addressed to organ transplantation, and the realistic potential for clinical application of the results in the near term. Projects selected for a ROTRF grant award in Cycle XXV focused on the identification of rejection markers after cardiac transplantation, investigations of inflammatory processes in the small airways of transplanted lungs, hepatitis C recurrence after liver transplantation, Epstein Barr virus malignancies after transplantation, cardiovascular risk in children and young adults after renal transplantation, and dynamics of bacterial colonisation after lung transplantation.

As highlighted by the many publications in peer-reviewed journals, presentations at congresses and meetings, and the ROTRF Recognition Prize, previous awards have led to very interesting and important data in disparate research areas of organ transplantation. We are looking forward to updates on the progress of the projects funded in 2011.

Grants in Cycle XXVII, for which the preliminary submission was in November 2011, will be awarded in spring 2012 and we are currently accepting applications for Cycle XXVIII until the deadline on 1 October 2012. Once again, we will welcome submission of proposals for clinically oriented research projects, such as observational clinical studies or studies that use human transplant samples for laboratory examinations to investigate the pathogenesis of human disease states in organ transplantation. We are also looking forward to receiving applications for collaborative partnerships, for developing and evaluating novel techniques or addressing currently under-studied areas of clinical transplantation research.

We are very grateful to F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd for their continuous support. With their generous gift, the ROTRF has been able to support research into organ transplantation for over 13 years. We also like to thank the ROTRF Scientific Advisory Committee, ad hoc reviewers and the grantees for their excellent work and support, which have contributed to the overall success of the Foundation.

Finally, we wish the newly granted investigators of Cycles XXV and XXVI good luck with their research!

On behalf of the Board of Trustees

Philip F. Halloran, MD, PhD, OC
Chairman, ROTRF Board of Trustees