Harald zur Hausen - Nobel honour for cancer research

Harald zur HausenBerlin - Harald zur Hausen, a German virologist who shared the Nobel prize for medicine on Monday, was honoured for his research which led to the development of a vaccine against cervical cancer.

Born in Gelsenkirchen in the West of Germany, zur Hausen studied medicine in Bonn, Hamburg and Dusseldorf. After graduating in December 1960 he devoted himself to science.

As a young researcher, he investigated the links between viral infections and the development of specific types of cancer in humans.

In 1970 he made his scientific breakthrough when he detected the Epstein-Barr virus in tissue samples of two human tumors.

Since the 1970s, zur Hausen focused his research on papilloma viruses. He was the first to discover that individual types of these viruses, which were also first isolated in his working group, can cause cervical cancer.

This discovery paved the way for prevention measures and led to the development of a vaccine against cervical cancer.

Zur Hausen, 72, has received numerous prizes for his work, including the Raymond Bourgine Award, the Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine and the German Order of Merit.

From 1983 until his retirement in March 2003, zur Hausen was chairman of the management board of the German Cancer Research Centre.

The virologist has received honorary doctorates in six countries and is a member of numerous national and international specialist associations. (dpa)