Nobel Prize

Essay by tifferzzzzCollege, UndergraduateB, December 2008

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Harald Zur HausenHarald Zur Hausen was born in Gelsenkirchen, Germany on March 11, 1936. He was born the youngest of four brothers, who are also very involved with their own studies. Later in life Hausen qualified as a doctor in 1960. He studied medicine at universities of Bonn, Hamburg, and Dusseldorf where he received his M.D. He worked at many places, some including as postdoc at the institute of microbiology in Busseldorf, as an assistant professor at the children hospital in Philadelphia, and as a chairman and professor of virology at the University of Erlangen-Nurnberg. From 1983 until 2003 he was appointed as scientific director of German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. He had a special interest in virus-induced malignancies. He showed the role of papilloma viruses in cervical cancer and discovered a larger number of novel viruses types. Through his discoveries he received numerous national and international awards.

When Harald Zur Hausen became a doctor, the role of viruses in human cancers was unknown. The first human induced virus was discovered in 1911. He first studied the Epstein Bar virus, and what it was capable of. He found, after a long struggle, that "non-virus producing" Bukitts Lymphoma cells contained Epstein Barr DNA. "We showed for the first time that viruses could persist in human tumor cells as genomes, and probably modify via the genomes these cells into tumor growth."(Hausen, 34) He became skeptical about claims that herpes simplex virus caused cervical cancer, which was sexually transmitted. The state of biology before the work s that no one focused on HPV, but other viruses they thought causes cervical cancer.

The work Hausen did was set up a program to examine other candidates, including HPV, which was responsible for skin warts. He knew HPV cannot be grown in...