As a boy growing up in Germany, I built my own toys — once, a friend and I even constructed an electric railway system in my basement — so I’ve always been a tinkerer. Clinical research allows me to experiment, solving medical puzzles that can improve patients’ lives. Back in the 1960s, transplant research seemed like the ultimate challenge; I just knew I had to be a part of it. The idea of eliminating unhealthy stem cells and replacing them with new ones from a donor filled me with a sense of wonder. Research is always exciting when it translates into better care.
Most people want to know three things about their doctors: One, that they are knowledgeable about medicine. Two, that they are on the leading edge of research. And three, that they have compassion and truly care. I think my patients appreciate that I have these qualities. I’ve also been told that my enthusiasm is contagious; I love what I do, and I suppose that shines through. I think my doggedness is equally important. Bone marrow transplantation is not yet the perfect cure, but I’m constantly working to improve this therapy; patients and the loved ones who support them are my inspiration.
Area of clinical practice
Adult Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Bone marrow diseases
A founding member of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, I specialize in stem cell transplantation. My career began back in the 1960s, working with Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, who won the Nobel Prize for pioneering bone marrow transplantation (the first stem cell therapy). I built on that advance by developing the mini-transplant, which reduces the levels of chemotherapy and radiation required, making stem cell transplantation accessible to more people. Today, it is the standard of care for many blood disorders. Throughout my career, I have authored more than 1,000 articles on stem cell transplantation techniques and outcomes.
Now, as head of the Transplantation Biology Program at Fred Hutch, my research is focused on eliminating barriers to successful allogeneic stem cell transplantation, such as graft-versus-host-disease and graft failure. In 2015, the National Institutes of Health awarded me $22.7 million to continue refining this procedure by reducing harmful side effects.
Reduced intensity conditioning
Physikum, University of Munich
University of Freiburg
At Fred Hutch, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a patient care coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.
Fred Hutch accepts most national private health insurance plans as well as Medicare. We also accept Medicaid for people from Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. We are working to ensure that everyone, no matter what their financial situation, has access to the care they need.