The European Cell Death Organization (ECDO) was founded in 1994 and has currently more than 200 members representing all major research groups in Europe, but also from non-European countries.  

ECDO's history - view by two of its founders

The history of ECDO goes to the 80’ies of the last century. Although the term “programmed cell death” was introduced by Richard Lockshin, who was a PhD student at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA), the term “apoptosis” was coined in 1972 by John Kerr, Andrew Wyllie and Alastair Currie from a European team from Scotland. Interestingly, in the list of key contributors to the field described by Andrew Wyllie in 1988 in the Atlas of Science, majority were from Europe. Accordingly, the first international Symposium on apoptosis in Europe was organized in 1989 in Sardinia by Amedeo Columbano, the Symposium was attended by about 30 scientists including Andrew Wyllie and John Kerr. In 1990 in the framework of the 20th FEBS Meeting in Budapest (Hungary) Laszlo Fesus organized another Symposium on “Programmed Cell Death” attended by over 100 participants. Researchers from different countries presented data on biochemistry, cell biology and morphology of apoptotic cells. The main focus was on the understanding of mechanisms of DNA fragmentation and role of calcium in this process, involvement of transglutaminase, and phagocytosis in development and recognition of apoptosis, as well as two biological examples of cell death: death of intestinal cells and radiation-induced cell death. Importantly, Peter Krammer and Klaus-Michael Debatin described a novel apoptosis pathway induced by monoclonal antibody Apo-1. In fact, it was a really breakthrough symposium.
In 1992 as a result of the Conference in Pasteur Institute, hosted by Marie-Lise Gougeon and Luc Montagnier, the European Working Group on Apoptosis (EWGA) was established. This group included researchers from France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Hungary. Moreover, it was decided to organize the 1st Euroconference on apoptosis in Paris. With the help of the European School of Hematology, Prof. Michel Lanotte put together an excellent scientific program, which included researchers not only from European countries, but also from the USA and Japan.
As a result of the 2nd Euroconference on Apoptosis, the EWGA has been registered as an official structure and the First President, Prof. Sten Orrenius, was elected. In 1994 the EWGA denomination was transformed in the European Cell Death Organization (ECDO).
The first six Euroconferences were supported by the Commission of European Communities DGXII, Training and mobility program and organized with a help of the European School of Hematology. Then ECDO was responsible for managing all Euroconferences, except in 2003, when the European Commission again helped us. In 2003, the ECDO Constitution was registered at Ghent (Belgium). Starting from the 11th Conference in Ghent, outstanding researchers in the field are invited to give an ECDO Honorary Lectures. In conjunction with this lecture, recipients are receiving a plate that documented the ECDO Career Award for Excellence in Cell Death Research. During these years a long standing collaboration with the leading journal in the field Cell Death & Differentiation was established. Each year young fellows are getting CDD’s poster Award and from 2015 the Editorial Board decided to propose a new scientific prize named “The CDD Tschopp Prize”, which will be delivered annually on the Euroconferences on Apoptosis.

Boris Zhivotovsky
Mauro Piacentini



The main aims of ECDO are

To share information on current developments in the field of cell death research To facilitate scientific links between and among the participating laboratories To assist the mobility of students and researches between institutions (within and across national borders) To form interest groups in relation to various topics of cell death research

Presidents of ECDO

  • Dr. Sten Orrenius (Stockholm, Sweden) - 1995 - 1996
  • Dr. Laszlo Fesus (Debrecen, Hungary) - 1997 - 1998
  • Dr. Marie-Lise Gougeon (Paris, France) - 1999 - 2000
  • Dr. Peter H. Krammer (Heidelberg, Germany) - 2001 - 2002
  • Dr. Mauro Piacentini (Rome, Italy) - 2003 - 2005
  • Dr. Klaus-Michael Debatin (Ulm, Germany) - 2005-2007
  • Dr. Hans-Uwe Simon (Bern, Switzerland) - 2007-2009
  • Dr. Boris Zhivotovsky (Stockholm, Sweden) - 2009-2011
  • Dr. Guido Kroemer (Vilejuif, France) - 2011-2013
  • Dr. Peter Vandenabeele (Ghent, Belgium) - 2013-2015
  • Dr. Seamus Martin (Dublin, Ireland) - 2015-2017
  • Dr. Patrizia Agostinis (Leuven, Belgium) - 2017-2019
  • Dr. Gerry Melino (Leicester, UK) - 2019-2021



1. Name and domicile
Article 1
A Non-Profit Organization was established under the name "European Cell Death Organization". This name can be abbreviated as ECDO. All acts, invoices, announcements, publications and all other documents from the non-profit organization must state the name of the association, ...
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The ECDO Euroconferences

In trying to reach it's goals, ECDO is organising the annual Euroconferences, and is also organising special workshops and courses for young researchers in the field.

The first meeting was organised by the European School of Hematology (ESH) with support from the Commission of European Communities DGXII, Training and mobility program. The Executive Director of ESH, Ms. D. Jasmin and her assistant Ms. G. Lebougault put a lot of energy to bring together European researchers in the apoptosis field. ESH and ECDO jointly organized the next six Meetings, again with the support from the Commission of European Communities. From the eighth Meeting on, ECDO is the main organiser of the Euroconferences. The main support for these meetings comes from the European Commission(COST Action 844; Marie Curie Conferences and training courses MSCF-CT-2003-504454).

The previous conferences

  • 1st Euroconference on Apoptosis, Paris, France
    chair: Michel Lanotte

  • 2nd Euroconference on Apoptosis, Kinsale, Irland
    October 1-4, 1994
    chair: Thomas Cotter

  • 3th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Cuenca, Spain
    October 21-25, 1995
    chairs: Abelardo Lopez-Rivas, Carlos Martinez-A and Michel Lanotte.

  • 4th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Capri, Italy
    September 25-29, 1996
    chairs: Gerry Melino and Mauro Piacentini

  • 5th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Bingen/Rhein, Germany
    September 28 - October 1
    chairs: Klaus-Michael Debatin and Peter H. Krammer

  • 6th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Stockholm, Sweden
    September 24-27, 1998
    chair: Sten Orrenius

  • 7th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Ein Gedi, Israel
    November 14-17,1999
    chairs: Adi Kimich, Moshe Oren and Elisheva Yonish-Rouach

  • 8th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Davos, Switzerland
    October 14-17, 2000
    chairs: Hans-Uwe Simon and Uwe Zangemeister-Wittke

  • 9th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Vienna, Austria
    October 13-16, 2001
    chairs: Wilfried Bursch and Laszlo Fesus

  • 10th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Paris, France
    October 10-13, 2002
    chairs: Marie-Lise Gougeon and Guido Kroemer

  • 11th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Ghent, Belgium
    October 25-28, 2003
    chairs: Peter Vandenabeele and Wim Declercq

  • 12th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Chania, Crete
    September 17-20, 2004
    chairs: Antonios Makris and Sotirios Kampranis

  • 13th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Budapest, Hungary
    October 1-4, 2005
    chairs: Laszlo Fesus and Zsuzsa Szondy

  • 14th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Sardinia, Italy
    September 29 - October 4, 2006
    chairs: Amedeo Columbano and Mauro Piacentini

  • 15th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Portoroz, Slovenia
    October 26-31, 2007
    chair: Boris Turk

  • 16th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Bern, Switzerland
    September 6-9, 2008
    chairs: Hans-Uwe Simon and Thomi Brunner

  • 17th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Paris, France
    September 23-26, 2009
    chairs: Marie-Lise Gougeon and Guido Kroemer

  • 18th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Ghent, Belgium
    September 1-4, 2010
    chairs: Peter Vandenabeele, Wim Declercq and Patrizia Agostinis

  • 19th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Stockholm, Sweden
    September 14-17, 2011
    chairs: Boris Zhivotovsky, Bertrand Joseph and Theoharis Panaretakis

  • 20th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Rome, Italy
    September 14-17, 2012
    chairs: Mauro Piacentini, Eleonora Candi, Francesco Cecconi and Gerry Melino

  • 21th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Paris, France
    September 25-28, 2013
    chairs: Marie-Lise Gougeon and Guido Kroemer

  • 22nd Euroconference on Apoptosis, Hersonissos, Crete
    October 1-4, 2014
    chair: Nektarios Tavernarakis

  • 23rd Euroconference on Apoptosis, Geneva, Switserland
    October 7-10, 2015
    chair: Jean-Claude Martinou
  • 24th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Barcelona, Spain
    September 28-30, 2016
    chair: Cristina Munoz Pinedo and Jean-Ehrland Ricci

  • 25th Euroconference on Apoptosis, Leuven, Belgium
    September 27-29, 2017
    chair: Patrizia Agostinis