Dr. Harald zur Hausen was born on
11th March, 1936, in the city of
After finishing his school in 1955, he
opted for medicine and graduated in 1960
from University of Bonn where he
completed his MD.
Subsequently he developed a fascination for experimental studies and worked on virus-induced chromosomal modifications.
In 1966 he went to Philadelphia to work in the Henle's Laboratory on EBV and adenovirus type-12.
In 1969 he returned back to Germany and worked in the Institute of Virology at the University of Wurzburg, where he demonstrated EBV DNA in Burkitt's Lymphoma and Nasopharyngeal Cancer.
In 1972 he was appointed chairman of the newly established Institute of Clinical Virology in Erlangen-Nürnberg and changed his research field to cervical cancer.
In 1976 he published the hypothesis that human papilloma virus plays an important role in the cause of cervical cancer.
In 1977 he was appointed as chairman of the Institute of Virology of the University of Freiburg, Germany, where he continued studies on human papilloma viruses.
Late in 1979 his co-workers Lutz Gissmann and Ethel-Michele de Villiers successfully isolated and cloned the first DNA from genital warts, HPV-6. In 1983 they were able to document the isolation of HPV-16 and in 1984 the isolation of HPV- 18 DNA. This research directly made possible the development of a vaccine which was introduced in 2006. In 1983 he was appointed as the Scientific Director of the German Cancer Research Centre (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum) in Heidelberg, a national research centre.
In 2003, after 20 years, he retired from the scientific directorship of the German Cancer Research Centre. Subsequently, he kept a laboratory in the virus building of the Cancer Centre and continues up to now to act as Editor-in- Chief of the International Journal of Cancer.
The early hypothesis that cervical cancer was caused by papilloma viruses, the successful isolation and characterisation of the two most frequent HPV types in this cancer and the subsequent steps leading to a better understanding of the mechanism of HPVmediated carcinogenesis and eventually to the development of a preventive vaccine were cited as the prime reasons for awarding one half of the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology to him in 2008.
(From Nobel website, 2009 & Wikipedia, 05.03.2013)