Prof. Dr. Hans-Reimer Rodewald
Immunology, German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), Heidelberg
The Leibniz Prize for Hans-Reimer Rodewald recognises his outstanding work on haematopoiesis, the formation of blood cells. He has made groundbreaking contributions to the understanding of the biology of the thymus, a lymphatic organ. He has also analysed the development of immune system cells, particularly T cells, which develop in the thymus and are key to the cellular immune response, and mast cells, which are involved in many allergies. In his research on the development of the thymus and T cells, Rodewald demonstrated through meticulous experiments that if adequate replenishment does not take place in the thymus, autonomous cell production occurs, which can lead to leukaemic transformation. By using fundamental biology research, he explained the development of leukaemia following gene therapy of haematopoietic (blood-forming) cells. In haematopoiesis research, Rodewald’s work has clarified the formation of special blood cells. He has also investigated how different kinds of immune cells develop from stem cells and together form a functioning defensive system.
Since 2010, Hans-Reimer Rodewald has led the Cellular Immunology department at the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg. He studied veterinary medicine in Hanover and wrote his doctoral thesis at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology in Freiburg. After stays at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, Harvard Medical School and the Basel Institute for Immunology, in 1999 he was appointed professor at the University of Ulm, from where he moved to his current role. In 2016, Rodewald was awarded the German Immunology Prize by the German Society for Immunology.