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DKFZ Chairman and Director Otmar D. Wiestler has been elected Helmholtz President

No. 48c2 | 20/10/2014 | by Sel

The Senate of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers has unanimously elected Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Otmar D. Wiestler, Chairman of the Management Board and Scientific Director of the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ), to become the next President of the Helmholtz Association. The Senate followed a unanimous proposal submitted by the Assembly of Members on September 17, 2014. The new President’s term of office will start on September 1, 2015. The current Helmholtz President, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Mlynek, came into office in 2005 and will resign after two terms of office, in accordance with the Statutes.

Prof. Otmar Wiestler
© Gaby Gerster

Wiestler’s initial reaction was to state: “I am grateful for this evidence of trust placed in me by the Helmholtz Senate and I am looking forward to the exciting task that lies ahead of me.” Professor Josef Puchta, a colleague in the DKFZ Management Board, commented on the election: “I have had a pleasant and successful collaboration with Otmar Wiestler over the past 10 years. I am personally pleased for Otmar Wiestler that the Helmholtz Centers and the Helmholtz Senate have entrusted him with this great responsibility. I am convinced that he will invest the same energy into his work for the Helmholtz Association as he has done for the DKFZ.”

Wiestler, who has headed the DKFZ since 2004, emphasized that for the remaining eleven months he would devote all his energy to his work for the DKFZ and would vigorously advance all the projects that have been launched under his leadership. These include particularly the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK). In this project, launched in 2012, the DKFZ joined seven university hospitals across Germany with the aim of accelerating the translation of research results from bench to bedside, and the expansion of the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg into a center of excellence for individualized cancer medicine.

The Board of Trustees of the DKFZ, headed by Bärbel Brumme-Bothe, Department Head in the Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), will immediately appoint a search committee to search for a suitable successor for Prof. Wiestler.

“I am very pleased that in Professor Wiestler we have found an excellent scientist and research manager for the office of Helmholtz President,” said the BMBF State Secretary Cornelia Quennet-Thielen, who headed the joint search committee of the Helmholtz Assembly of Members and the Senate. “I am sure that Professor Wiestler will advance the excellent development of the Helmholtz Association as an outstanding national and international science organization, with both skill and dedication."

Current Helmholtz President Jürgen Mlynek, who in this function also chairs the Senate, said, “I am glad that we have prepared my succession early on and with such a convincing result. I wish Otmar Wiestler all the best in this wonderful office.”

Wiestler has been Chairman of the Management Board and Scientific Director of the DKFZ in Heidelberg since 2004. From 2007 to 2012, he was Vice-President for Health of the Helmholtz Association. Wiestler studied medicine at the University of Freiburg. From 1984 to 1987, he worked as a researcher at the University of California in San Diego, and then went on to join the Department of Pathology at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. From 1992 to 2003, he headed the Department of Neuropathology at the University of Bonn, where he also served as head of the German Brain Tumor Reference Center and as Medical Director of Life & Brain GmbH.

The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) with its more than 3,000 employees is the largest biomedical research institution in Germany. More than 1,300 scientists at the DKFZ investigate how cancer develops, identify cancer risk factors and search for new strategies to prevent people from developing cancer. They are developing new methods to diagnose tumors more precisely and treat cancer patients more successfully. The DKFZ's Cancer Information Service (KID) provides patients, interested citizens and experts with individual answers to all questions on cancer.

Jointly with partners from the university hospitals, the DKFZ operates the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg and Dresden, and the Hopp Children's Tumour Center KiTZ in Heidelberg. In the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK), one of the six German Centers for Health Research, the DKFZ maintains translational centers at seven university partner locations. NCT and DKTK sites combine excellent university medicine with the high-profile research of the DKFZ. They contribute to the endeavor of transferring promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improving the chances of cancer patients.

The DKFZ is 90 percent financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.

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