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Ursula Weyrich succeeds Josef Puchta as Administrative Director of DKFZ

No. 55 | 29/11/2019 | by Koh

As of January 1, 2020, Ursula Weyrich will take over as Administrative Director of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). Weyrich will succeed Josef Puchta, who reached the legal retirement age on November 30 after more than 23 years on the Management Board at DKFZ.

Ursula Weyrich
© DKFZ/Jutta Jung

"DKFZ is the flagship of German cancer research and is one of the very best cancer research centers in the world. I am very grateful for the trust placed in me. The post of Administrative Director of DKFZ is a great challenge and carries considerable responsibility. I am looking forward to continuing Josef Puchta's excellent work," Ursula Weyrich announced. A trained lawyer, she has been Administrative Managing Director of the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research and the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research in Europe (FAIR) GmbH in Darmstadt since 2014, before which she was a founding board member of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn. She will assume her new post in Heidelberg in January 2020.

"DKFZ is very lucky to have been able to recruit Ursula Weyrich to succeed Josef Puchta as Administrative Director," remarked Michael Baumann, Chairman of DKFZ's Management Board. "She has an extraordinary breadth of experience in the field of knowledge management, particularly in managing highly complex and international institutions. I am delighted at this excellent choice and am convinced that we will shape DKFZ's future development successfully together."

"I have known Ursula Weyrich for many years as an excellent and highly esteemed colleague and I am certain that she will help develop DKFZ. After more than 23 extremely interesting and challenging years, this certainty makes it easier for me to take my leave. I wish my successor every success in her new tasks," Josef Puchta added.

Josef Puchta, an economist, joined DKFZ in 1996 from the German Institute of Human Nutrition (DIfE) in Potsdam-Rehbrücke. His guiding principle as Administrative Director was to provide the general conditions to allow DKFZ to become one of the world's leading institutions. During his time at DKFZ, there were also a number of pioneering construction projects, including the genome research building in the Technology Park, NCT Heidelberg, and most recently the Imaging and Radiooncology Center and the complete refurbishment of DKFZ's high-rise building.

During his period in office, the number of employees at DKFZ almost doubled – from 1,600 to 3,100. Josef Puchta established technology transfer and innovation management at DKFZ and hence put the commercialization of DKFZ's research results on an institutional footing. He played a key role in the founding and development of the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) and German Cancer Consortium (DKTK) sites.

Ursula Weyrich's résumé

Ursula Weyrich studied law in Mainz and Clermont-Ferrand, completing her legal training in 1998 with the bar examination. She initially worked as a lawyer, specializing in labor, corporate, and tax law, before moving to the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) as policy officer, where she was responsible, among other things, for the merger of the GMD Research Center Information Technology with the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. After a period spent working as the personal assistant to the permanent secretary at BMBF, she became head of division at BMBF in 2006. In that capacity, she was responsible for the Helmholtz centers in Jülich and Karlsruhe, the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP), and for setting up the W7-X fusion experiment in Greifswald. Her responsibilities also included assisting with the merger of the University of Karlsruhe and the Research Center Karlsruhe to form the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

At the end of 2008, as an administrative founding board member, Ursula Weyrich assumed responsibility for setting up the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases. She has been Administrative Managing Director of the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research and the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research in Europe (FAIR) GmbH in Darmstadt since November 2014.

A photo of Ursula Weyrich is available for download at: 

Note on use of images related to press releases
Use is free of charge. The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) permits one-time use in the context of reporting about the topic covered in the press release. Images have to be cited as follows: "Source: DKFZ/Jutta Jung".
Distribution of images to third parties is not permitted unless prior consent has been obtained from DKFZ's Press Office (phone: ++49-(0)6221 42 2854, E-mail: Any commercial use is prohibited.


With more than 3,000 employees, the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) is Germany’s largest biomedical research institute. DKFZ scientists identify cancer risk factors, investigate how cancer progresses and develop new cancer prevention strategies. They are also 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 questions relating to cancer.

To transfer promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improve the prognosis of cancer patients, the DKFZ cooperates with excellent research institutions and university hospitals throughout Germany:

  • National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT, 6 sites)
  • German Cancer Consortium (DKTK, 8 sites)
  • Hopp Children's Cancer Center (KiTZ) Heidelberg
  • Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology (HI-TRON Mainz) - A Helmholtz Institute of the DKFZ
  • DKFZ-Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim
  • National Cancer Prevention Center (jointly with German Cancer Aid)
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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