Prof. Claus Cursiefen, Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University Hospital of Cologne, is now an officially voted-in member of Leopoldina, the German National Academy of Sciences. The internationally renowned eye specialist will now represent the field of ophthalmology in the oldest scientific academy in the world. Prof. Cursiefen is specialized in the area of corneal lymphangiogenesis and cellular immunity in inflammatory diseases of the eye, corneal transplantation and restoration of the ocular surface.
Leopoldina, the German Academy of Natural Scientists, is the oldest scholarly society for the natural sciences and medicine in Germany. Outstanding scientists from all over the world are members of it, among them a number of Nobel laureates. This circle of excellent scientists now includes Prof. Cursiefen.
A native Rhinelander, Prof. Cursiefen studied medicine at universities in Regensburg, Wuerzburg, Dundee/St. Andrews and at King’s College in London. These studies culminated in a “summa cum laude” medical doctorate awarded by the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Wuerzburg (Prof. D. Drenckhahn). This thesis was concerned with vascular biology. He did his specialist medical training at the University Eye Hospital in Erlangen.
After his completion of specialty medical exams at both national and European levels in 2001, Prof. Cursiefen went to the Schepens Eye Research Institute and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary at Harvard Medical School in Boston on scholarship of the German Research Foundation (DFG). The laboratories of Prof. Wayne Streilein and Prof. Reza Dana, he studied the mechanisms of corneal hem- and lymphangiogenesis and their relevance for transplantation immunology. Following that, he continued his clinical training on the cornea at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. At both of these Boston institutions, Prof. Cursiefen continues his status as an Adjunct Associate Scientist and is also a Visiting Professor there. In 2003, he completed his Habilitation in Erlangen on the topic “Corneal Hem- and Lymphangiogenesis”.
Upon his return to Germany from the USA in 2004, Prof. Cursiefen, now 48 years old, was named a senior physician at the University Eye Hospital of Erlangen.
In Erlangen, Prof. Cursiefen led the cornea bank there and clinically specialized in corneal surgery, cataract surgery, refractive surgery, and in glaucoma. As a principal investigator in the Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research in Erlangen and in a research consortium, his group worked on new anti(lymph)angiogenic therapeutic methods for improving transplantation survival and preventing tumor metastasis. Since 2011, he is the Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University Hospital of Cologne and since 2015, he is the Speaker of the first and currently only DFG research unit in the field of ophthalmology (www.for2240.de).
Background: The Leopoldina brings together excellent scientists who advise political circles and society at large about relevant scientific questions. In doing this, they take on various issues and work on them with their scientific expertise in such a manner that their advice is independent of political and economic interests. Leopoldina represents Germany in international academy panels and maintains contacts with national scientific academies.
[This post is based on the German-language article https://augenklinik.uk-koeln.de/informationen/aktuelles/detailansicht/prof-cursiefen-in-leopoldina-gewaehlt/published 31.08.2017]