Health for all: Gene and Cell therapy in Universal Health Coverage



Dr. Evangelia Yannaki

University of Washington

Evangelia Yannaki, MD, PhD is medical director at the Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation Unit (HCTU) and Gene & Cell Therapy Center of G.Papanikolaou Hospital, Thessaloniki and affiliate Professor of the University of Washington. Her major research interests are gene therapy for hemoglobinopathies and the development of translatable gene- and cell-based approaches towards a better outcome of allogeneic HCT. She was the PI of two mobilization trials which defined the optimal mobilization and hematopoietic cell graft for thalassemia gene therapy. Currently, she is the PI in two international, phIII gene therapy trials in the context of haploidentical transplantation (TK-008/Molmed) and β-thalassemia (HGB-212/BlueBirdBio).

Complete List of her Published Work can be found here.


Ms. Maria Hadjidemetriou 

Expert Patient, Thalassaemia International Federation

Maria, who was born with Cooley’s Anemia (Thalassemia) has been a downtown resident for 20 years. Since diagnosis at 2 1/2 years of age Maria has received over 1,700 pints of blood. She is a mother to her beautiful daughter Julia who is 11 years old. She is an experienced Real Estate Sales Agent and a freelance writer. She has produced and written a short documentary Thalassemia: Life Without Boundaries and her article, “Thalassemia: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow,” was published in the American Journal of Hematology. Maria additionally has been on the Board of Directors of the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation since 1998 (currently serving as Secretary of the Board) and is a speaker for medical conferences and pharmaceutical firms around the world.


Mr. George Constantinou

Expert Patient, Thalassaemia International Federation

Mr. George Constantinou, a founding member of the Thalassaemia International Federation, has been involved with the Cyprus Thalassaemia Association and the UK Thalassaemia Society, where he served as a member of their respective Board for many years. As a passionate and dedicated expert patient, he has been involved in numerous delegations visits in various parts of the world for the promotion of haemoglobin disorders, advocating for the rights of patients with thalassaemia to quality healthcare globally.


Dr. Mareike Ostertag 

Director Science and Regulatory Policy at Novartis AG

Mareike Ostertag has extensive experience in the pharmaceutical industry. In over 17 years with Novartis, Dr. Ostertag held different roles with increasing responsibility within the company as well as with external industry- and non-industry partners. Roles included Technical Marketing, Global Project Management R&D, Alliance Management R&D as well as Public Private Partnership and Stakeholder Management for Middle East and Africa. As part of her previous roles, she successfully led Due Diligence projects and was responsible for the integration and Alliance Management of licensed projects into the Novartis portfolio.  In her current role, Mareike Ostertag focusses on policy issues related to R&D across the Novartis Divisions, with specific focus on Biotherapeutics including Biosimilars, Cell and Gene Therapies, Orphan Diseases, IP and R&D incentives. Dr. Ostertag holds a degree in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Giessen, Germany and a PhD in cellular immunology. A native German, Mareike Ostertag has been living and working in Switzerland and the US for the past 14 years. She is married and lives outside of Basel, Switzerland today.