Professor Harald  Zur Hausen

Professor Harald Zur Hausen M.D.

2005 in Public Health

Professor Harald Zur Hausen is Professor Emeritus and former Director of Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (German Cancer Research Center) in Heidelberg, Germany.
Professor Zur Hausen’s discovery has a major impact in our understanding of the cause of cervical cancer which is leading to the prevention of one of the most common cancers in women. He and his group identified the previously unknown virus, namely human papilloma virus HPV16 and HPV18, from the cancer tissue and elucidated the mechanism that the viruses turn the normal cell into cancer cells.
Cervical cancer is one of the major causes of death in women worldwide. It is estimated that more than 500,000 women suffer from cervical cancer each year, 80% of them are in developing countries. The breakthrough discovery that this cancer is caused by virus is crucial for the improvement in the diagnosis, screening, prevention and treatment. This also leads to the development of vaccines that aim to prevent cancer. This benefits the health of women all over the world.
Professor Zur Hausen studied medicine in Dusseldorf and subsequently worked in Philadelphia before returning to Germany. He served as Chairman of the Management Board and Scientific Director of the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg for 20 years.