Our story begins in 1991, when our founder, Dr. Peter Harf, lost his wife Mechtild to leukemia. Peter promised his wife to help everyone in need of a stem cell donation to find a matching donor. At that time, there were only 3,000 potential stem cell donors available in Germany. Peter founded DKMS Germany, and within just one year the number of potential donors increased to 68,000. This was reason enough for our founder to believe in his vision – to delete blood cancer and give everyone in need of a stem cell donation a second chance at life. In 2004, we embarked on our international journey by founding DKMS in the US, followed by further openings in Poland in 2009, the UK in 2013 and Chile in 2018. Every 35 seconds, someone somewhere in the world is diagnosed with blood cancer. DKMS gives hope to those in need of a stem cell donation, by providing people all around the world with a second chance at life. An international exchange system ensures that the search for a matching stem cell donor is carried out globally and if necessary, the stem cell donation crosses borders. 41% of all stem cell donations worldwide are enabled by DKMS. To work towards our goal of finding a matching donor for everyone in need of a stem cell donation, we need to continue to grow and register potential donors from all over the world. Every day, over 850 DKMS employees around the world are committed to giving more people in need of a stem cell donation a second chance at life.
• We create awareness of blood cancer diseases and treatments.
• We recruit stem cell donors to give those in need of a stem cell donation a second chance at life.
• We engage the public as well as companies to organize donor registration events.
• We raise funds to increase both the size and diversity of the worldwide pool of available stem cell donors.
• We help to improve blood cancer treatment – through our own research and state-of-the-art technology in our laboratory
• We maintain our donor relationship from day one of registration until stem cell donation.
Quality programs are used to ensure the continuous development and improvement in both the quality and the quantity of potential donors registered with DKMS. We are committed to efficiency and finding a matching donor for everyone in need of a stem cell donation as quickly as possible. Optimizing the quality of donor data is therefore one of our top priorities. By developing our own search algorithm, the Hap-E Search (Haplotype-Enhanced Search), we use patient findings to identify potential donors, identify suitable mismatch donors (with slight deviations in matching tissue characteristics) and enable automated searches. Other DKMS quality programs include the new typing of old donor data at our own expense, the targeted search for replacement donors and the ancestry program – which is used to find donors with rare combinations of tissue characteristics.
The Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) was founded in 2013 in Dresden, Germany, with the goal of promoting innovative research in the field of blood cancer. The department supports and performs research projects in order to help understand the implications of blood cancer treatment and improve the outcome for patients. Fundamental research, as well as international and interdisciplinary collaboration, is essential for this purpose.
The DKMS Mechtild Harf Science Award is presented annually by the DKMS Foundation for Giving Life. The award recognizes the outstanding achievements of internationally renowned individuals in the field of stem cell transplantation.
Katharina Fleischhauer (GER)
John A. Hansen (USA)
Richard J. O'Reilly (USA)
Dennis L. Confer MD (USA)
Prof. Guido Lucarelli (Italien)
Karl Blume (Deutschland)
Prof. Dr. med. Dr. hc. mult. Theodor M. Fliedner (Deutschland)
Rainer F. Storb (USA)
Jan van Rood MD, PhD (Niederlande)
Mary Horowitz MD,MS (USA)
Prof. Dr. med. Hans-Jochem Kolb (Deutschland)
Thomas E. Donnal MD (USA)
Eliane Gluckmann MD (Frankreich)
Efffie Wang Petersdorf MD (USA)
Dr. Helmut Geiger (Deutschland)
One of the focuses of Fleischhauer’s research is the so-called HLA-DPB1 marker, which is used for improved matching of stem cell donor and patient. Through her research the physician was able to identify beneficial HLA-DPB1 combinations, and major blood stem cell registries recently started to use these findings to improve their search procedures. When searching for a matching donor, new filters can be applied to display donors whose HLA-DPB1 types work well with the respective patient’s types. DKMS has included the HLA-DPB1 type in its typing profile of newly registered donors since 2013.
John A. Hansen has been instrumental in the success and effectiveness of stem cell transplantation for blood cancer patients, in particular with regard to our understanding of the impact of genetic variations within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC complex) on the success of transplant. He has furthermore conducted clinical studies to analyze the role of genes that are crucially involved in the regulation of cellular immune responses.