Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Henner Graeff, born April 19th, 1934, studied Medicine in Heidelberg, Innsbruck, and Berlin. After having accomplished his doctoral thesis in 1959 (Dr. med.), he started working as a medical assistant at the Medizinische Klinik, University of Heidelberg, Germany. After short-time professional positions at the Institute of Hygiene and the Department of Surgery, University of Heidelberg, he started his medical training at the Women’s Hospital (Frauenklinik) at the same university, where he was appointed Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist and also accomplished his habilitation.
In 1967, Prof. Dr. Graeff started his scientific career as a post-doctoral fellow with a NIH-scholarship at the Dept. of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University Medical Center New York, USA in the research group of Prof. Dr. med. F. K. Beller. Here, he studied the role of endotoxins in intravascular coagulation. His exciting new results by using an in vivo rabbit animal model were published in high-ranked scientific journals, among those, most prominently, Nature in 1967. Prof. Graeff then followed Prof. Dr. med. Josef Zander, who was Director of the Women’s Hospital at the University of Heidelberg since 1964, to the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) in Munich, Germany. During a period of 17 years of cooperation, Prof. Dr. Zander inspired him to focus his research interests towards Translational Cancer Research, eventually leading to his participation in two Collaborative Research Centers of the LMU, Sonderforschungsbereich SFB 51 “Medizinische Molekularbiologie und Biochemie” (1983-1990) and SFB207 “Grundlagen und klinische Bedeutung der extrazellulären limitierten Proteolyse” (1991-1997), funded by the German Research Association (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG). In 1975 he was appointed apl.-professor, followed in 1978 by his appointment as Full Professor (C3) at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University. Here he also held the position as Chief Senior Physician and Deputy Director of this department. In 1982, he was appointed Chairman and Director of the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at the Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München (TUM), a position which he held until his retirement in 2000.
Prof. Dr. Graeff was very successful in translating basic research into clinical practice, centering on patients afflicted with breast or ovarian cancer. In particular, his studies regarding the role of tumor-associated proteases in cancer progression and metastasis, laid the basis for the development of novel targeted anti-cancer drugs. His scientific achievements are documented in more than 500 scientific articles, published in internationally renowned scientific journals. His impressive scientific work spread to the scientific community by many oral presentations at international meetings and workshops, several of them organized by himself.
In 1992, the DFG initiated a Clinical Research Unit (DFG #34), the first of its kind at that time, at his department, which soon gained high international reputation. Besides that, Prof. Dr. Graeff´s research projects received support from other (inter)national programs sponsored by the European Union, Deutsche Krebshilfe, Wilhelm Sander-Foundation, and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), just to name a few. In 1997, Prof. Dr. Graeff participated in the formation of the first spin-off company of the Medical Faculty at the TUM, the Wilex AG, Munich.