Prof. Dr. Stefan Pfister - Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prizewinner 2023

Prof. Dr. Stefan Pfister

Prof. Dr. Stefan Pfister

© DFG / David Ausserhofer

Paediatric Oncology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Heidelberg University

Stefan Pfister is an outstanding fundamental researcher and physician who is awarded the Leibniz Prize in recognition of his research in the field of paediatric oncology, which has improved the diagnosis of brain tumours in children and provided patients with better therapy. His analyses of brain tumour tissue using novel genomic-based molecular approaches – taking into account such factors as changes in the expression of genes and their epigenetic regulation – have shown that brain tumours are based on not one, but many different disease mechanisms. Pfister’s research has enabled a new molecular-pathological classification of childhood brain tumours which has been recognised and adopted by the World Health Organisation. Today, this scientific foundation forms the basis worldwide for more precise diagnosis of these diseases, which as Pfister has shown are based on more than 100 different molecular causes. Pfister’s research is a breakthrough in paediatric oncology and an impressive example of precision medicine.

After completing his studies and obtaining his doctorate in medicine in Hamburg and Tübingen, Stefan Pfister went to Harvard University in Boston, USA, as a postdoc for one year. He trained in paediatrics at the University Children’s Hospital in Mannheim, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, and Heidelberg University Hospital, before going on to obtain his post-doctoral lecturing qualification in 2010. Pfister has headed the Division of Paediatric Neurooncology at the DKFZ since 2012 and has been a professor at Heidelberg University since 2014. His work has received numerous distinctions, including an ERC Consolidator Grant.



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