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Published: 2008-10-06

Nobel Prize in Medicine awarded to Umeå University Honorary Doctor

NEWS Harald zur Hausen, named this year’s Nobel Prize winner in Medicine today, has been an honorary doctor at the Faculty of Medicine at Umeå University since 1991. He continues to have contact with scientists at the Virology unit of the Department of Clinical Biology.

zur Hausen, born in Germany in 1936, is Professor Emeritus (retired) and former director of the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. He was awarded with half of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery in the 1980s of the human papilloma virus (HPV), which in addition to ordinary warts (which is a kind of tumor) can also cause cervical cancer.

The discovery has led to the development of vaccines able to prevent cervical cancer when given to young women. In Sweden, the National Board of Health and Welfare has recommended that the HPV vaccination of girls in grades five and six be included in the general vaccination programme beginning in 2009.

In the 1980s, zur Hausen collaborated closely with three scientists at Umeå University concerning the human papilloma virus and its significance in the emergence of cancer: Gynecologist Eva Rylander, Virologist Göran Wadell and Pathologist Lars Bjersing. In later years he also has collaborated with Virologist Magnus Evander, Department of Clinical Microbiology. Today, Dr. Harald zur Hausen maintains an ongoing exchange of knowledge, materials and discussions.

This is the second occurrence in a short period that an honorary doctorat at the Faculty of Medicine at Umeå University has won the Nobel Prize. Professor Roger D. Kornberg of Stanford University, USA, and honorary doctorat since 2003, received the 2006 prize in chemistry.

He visited Umeå in connection with the award ceremony in December of that year, see: www.info.umu.se/Nyheter/PressmeddelandeEng.aspx?id=2474

For more information about collaboration with Harald zur Hausen, contact:
Professor Emeritus Göran Wadell Phone: +46 (0)90-785 17 79
E-mail: goran.wadell@climi.umu.se, or
University Lecturer Magnus Evander Mobile: +46(0)76-800 70 78
E-mail: magnus.vander@climi.umu.se

Editor: Hans Fällman