Harald zur Hausen: 2008 - Physiology, Medicine

Harald zur Hausen
Harald zur Hausen

Year & Category

2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (shared with Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier, France, who received the prize "for their discovery of human immunodeficiency virus")

Prize motivation

"For his discovery of human papilloma viruses causing cervical cancer"

At the time of the award he worked at

German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany

About his work

Improved prediction techniques
Zur Hausen and his team eventually made a breakthrough in 1982 and 1983 when they were able to isolate HPV 16 and HPV 18 as the virus types responsible for cervical cancer. Based on these findings, vaccines have been developed against cervical cancer, one of the most common forms of cancer among women. Zur Hausen’s work led to improved methods for predicting which women are in the risk zone.

Strengthening German cancer research
Under Harald zur Hausen’s leadership, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg expanded collaboration with university hospitals, thereby strengthening the ties between basic research and clinical practice. The DKFZ is the largest biomedical research establishment in Germany and cooperates with numerous international partner institutions – including, for example, the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, in the USA and Wuhan University in China.