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Stop Smearing Vaccination

HARALD zur Hausen is not a household name – he should be but he isn’t. Yet despite humble origins and modest beginnings he won a Nobel prize in 2008 for a medical discovery that will ultimately save the lives of millions of women around the world (and quite a few men too).

Zur Hausen was born in 1936 in the German town of Gelsenkirchen in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. He and his entire family survived the Second World War despite extensive bombing of the area. But the war had an impact on his early education. As he says himself “Since schools were closed due to bombing raids in 1943, my elementary school training was full of gaps”.

Despite these early setbacks zur Hausen went on to study medicine in Bonn, Hamburg and Dusseldorf, from where he graduated with a medical degree in 1960. In 1965, having become interested in microbiology, zur Hausen jumped at the chance to work in the Virology Department at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia which had just gained prominence for its research on a possible link between the recently discovered Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the cause of glandular fever, and certain types of lymphoma. Zur Hausen was able to demonstrate the presence of the virus in the cells of Burkit’s lymphoma.

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An independent publication celebrating the innovation, successes and achievements of Scots while promoting the nation’s interests, culture and influence to a world-wide audience