Nils Pfaff, PhD
Feb 13, 2018
Hometown: Wilhelmshaven, Germany
Current residence: Düsseldorf, Germany
Graduate degree: PhD in Molecular Medicine from Hannover Medical School
Current position: Lab Head Preclinical Pharmacology, Bayer AG (Wuppertal, Germany)
What is the current focus of your research, and what do you find most rewarding about your work?
I am currently working in preclinical research in the Pharmaceuticals Division of Bayer. Apart from establishing iPSC-derived cells for target identification and validation, the main focus is in vivo pharmacology mostly in the therapeutic areas thrombosis and hemophilia. I really like the application-driven way of working in the (pharma) industry. It is great being involved in projects that always have the goal to improve the life of patients and being able to actually move these projects forward. It’s also fascinating to see how complex developing a new drug actually is and there is something new to learn every day.
What led you to become a scientist and to stem cell research?
I’ve always been interested in science. Back in high school I participated in a science club, which allowed me to work on smaller projects in a university lab during some of the vacations. At first I decided to study medicine but somehow realized I didn’t want to become a physician. That’s why I enrolled for Molecular Medicine (at Göttingen University, Germany), which turned out to be a great combination of science and medicine. When I started my PhD in 2008, iPS cells really were the hottest topic in biomedical research and the possibility to turn a skin cell into a stem cell into a blood/neuronal/cardiac cell was (and still is) just thrilling.
How do you spend your free time?
I regularly play football (soccer for the US folks…) and force myself to go running at least once a week. I also enjoy cooking (end eating, of course) a lot and have become a bit of a wine geek lately as well. Trying to stay in touch with friends and family is also very important for me.
What is something your peers would be surprised to learn about you?
I am a guitarist in a heavy metal band (the long hair is gone, though…) and regularly go to metal concerts and festivals.
What do you most value about your membership with the ISSCR?
Being member of the ISSCR is the best and easiest way to stay connected with the entire stem cell community and to permanently keep track of this still rapidly evolving field. Going to the annual meetings is always fun because you meet colleagues you haven’t seen for a whole year in most of the cases. Of course, the science presented is fascinating every time. Working in the ISSCR Industry Committee is a great way to discuss the industry’s perspective on translational aspects with the community – I think this dialogue is essential to bring effective stem cell-based therapies to patients.