Arnold Graffi

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bust of graffiti on the Biomedical Campus Berlin-Buch

Arnold Martin Graffi (born June 19, 1910 in Bistritz , Transylvania , Austria-Hungary ; † January 30, 2006 in Berlin ) was a Romanian-German oncologist and pioneer of experimental cancer research in Germany in the 20th century . He worked in leading positions in various non-university research institutions of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society and later the research community of the Academy of Sciences of the GDR . He received several important awards for his life's work. In addition to working in the medical field, Graffi had a musical talent and painted landscape watercolors.


Training and first medical work

Arnold Graffi was born in 1910 in Bistritz in Transylvania . He came to Germany with his parents after the First World War. Here he studied 1930-1935 medicine at the University of Marburg , the University of Leipzig and the Eberhard Karls University of Tuebingen . In 1940 he was with the work of the maceration of the living child at the Berlin Charité doctorate . There he worked with the surgeon Ferdinand Sauerbruch from 1937 to 1939 .

Specialization in cancer research

Until 1940 Graffi did research in cancer research at the Paul Ehrlich Institute in Frankfurt am Main . After further research stays in Prague and Budapest , he came to Berlin in 1943. Graffi worked there in a research laboratory at Schering AG . He also worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Cell Physiology with Nobel Prize winner Otto Warburg . In 1948 he completed his habilitation at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Berlin and received a call to the Academy Institute for Medicine and Biology in Berlin-Buch . He was initially a department head and researched the processes of cancer development through chemical substances and viruses . Arnold Graffi was a full member of the Academy of Sciences of the GDR (AdW) from 1961 and was accepted into the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina three years later . With the division of the Institute for Medicine and Biology into several successor institutions, he acted from 1955 to 1961 as director of the newly founded Institute for Experimental Cancer Research and then as divisional director at its successor institution, the Institute for Cancer Research created in 1964 through the merger with the Robert Rössle Clinic . After the Central Institute for Cancer Research (ZIK) was established at the beginning of 1972 , he took over the position of the deputy director responsible for the experimental area at the ZIK.

Development of new theoretical principles of cancer and gene therapy

In the 1960s, Graffi developed a DNA-based therapy concept for cancer, viral diseases and hereditary diseases, and made fundamental contributions to modern molecular biology and biotechnology . With his ideas for so-called nucleic acid anti-matrices, he provided the approaches to gene therapy pursued today . After taking over the provisional management of the institute together with Theodor Matthes after the death of ZIK director Hans Gummel in 1973 , he retired in 1975 . However, as an emeritus he was still involved in cancer research, especially on chemotherapy . At the beginning of the 1980s, with the support of his former student Günter Pasternak at the Central Institute for Molecular Biology in Berlin-Buch, he temporarily returned to active research.


Shortly before his 80th birthday, Graffi finally withdrew from scientific work. He was married and lived in Wandlitz in the artists' colony Rahmer See . In his spare time he played the piano and composed some pieces himself. He also painted watercolors , especially of landscapes in the Berlin area. In January 2006 he died in Berlin at the age of 95.


Graffi has received multiple awards for his pioneering work in experimental cancer research. These include membership in the Leopoldina and the award of the Cothenius Medal in 1977. In addition, he was awarded the GDR National Prize in 1955 and 1980 , in 1973 he received the Patriotic Order of Merit , in 1979 the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize and the Helmholtz Medal of the AdW in 1984 . The University of Leipzig awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1990 . Five years later he received the Great Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. A bronze bust was erected here on the Berlin-Buch campus while he was still alive, and a building in the biotechnology park was given his name.

Works (selection)

  • Problems of Experimental Cancer Research. Leipzig 1959
  • Experiments and reflections on the nature and cause of cancer. Berlin 1964
  • Basics of neutron therapy. Berlin 1975
  • Selected contributions to the diagnosis of malignant tumors. Berlin 1976
  • DNA Repair and Cancer Research. Berlin 1979


Web links

Commons : Arnold Graffi  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Horst Möbius: Personalities: He lived right next door. In Wandlitz, at the Rahmer See - he was one of us. In: Heidekraut Journal from April 2006, p. 8