Nobel Laureate Visits University of Bremen

Visits by Nobel laureates are by no means everyday occurrences. The University of Bremen is therefore immensely proud to be able to welcome Professor Harald zur Hausen to the campus on Friday 25 July 2014. It was zur Hausen who discovered that human papillom viruses (wart viruses) play a role in the development of cervical cancer. In 2008 this earned him the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The renowned medical researcher will be in Bremen to give a ceremonial address and public lecture in honor of Professor Angelika Vallbracht, who is retiring from the University of Bremen’s Institute for Virology which she has led since 1990. The topic of his lecture is: “The mechanisms leading to virus-induced cancers”.

Professor zur Hausen‘s research is focused on how viruses can induce cancers in humans. Cancer develops when the control systems that regulate the growth of individual cells and their ability to divide are damaged, causing unchecked cell proliferation. Certain types of virus can promote cell growth because as intracellular parasites they benefit from the growth of cells find particularly “nutritious”. Given the right circumstances, this ability means they contribute towards cancer development. In his lecture the prominent guest will concentrate on the molecular mechanisms that underlie this process. He first published his hypothesis that human papillom viruses could be involved in the development of cervical cancer as early as 1976. His initial suspicion was soon to become scientifically grounded fact. In the early 1980s he succeeded in isolating the human papillom virus types HPV 16 and HPV 18 in cervical cancer diseased tissue. Discovery of the cause of the third greatest cause of cancer in women opened up completely new prospects for the treatment and prevention of the disease, culminating in development of the HPV vaccines that became available in 2006. Zur Hausen‘s work led to improved methods for predicting the individual risk of women incurring cancer. Under Harald zur Hausen’s leadership, the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg (DKFZ) expanded its cooperation with university clinics, consolidating the connection between basic research and clinical practice. The DKFZ is the largest biomedical research establishment in Germany, working together with numerous partner institutes around the world.

Harald zur Hausen

Harald zur Hausen studied medicine the universities of Bonn, Hamburg and Düsseldorf, where he was awarded his doctorate. As a post-doc he worked at the Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology in Düsseldorf, as Assistant Professor of Virology at the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, and was senior research associate at the University of Würzburg’s Institute of Virology. In 1972 Harald zur Hausen became leader of the Institute of Virology at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. In 1977 he was appointed to the chair for Virology at the University of Freiburg. From 1983 to 2003 he was chairman and scientific advisor to the Board of Trustees of the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. The 78-year-old has been awarded numerous national and international prizes, including the Robert Koch Prize, the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstätter Prize, the Jung Prize, the Charles S. Mott Prize awarded by the General Motors Cancer Foundation, the William B. Coley Award for Distiguished Research in Basic Immunology awarded by the Cancer Research Institute, the Prince Mahidol Award and the University of Harvard’s Warren Alpert Prize – not to forget the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

The public lecture will be held on Friday 25 July 2014 at 11.30 a.m. in the auditorium in Building NW2 (C-Block, room C 0290), entrance in Leobener Straße.

If you would like to know more about this topic, please contact:
University of Bremen
Faculty Biology/ Chemistry
Institute of Virology
Prof.Dr. Andreas Dotzauer
Phone: +49 421 218 63396
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