Clinical Research Division; Head, Transplantation Biology Program
Rainer Storb, MD, is a native of Germany where he attended the University of Freiburg Medical School. After graduation, he spent two years doing clinical training in Essen and Munich, and then three years doing research in Paris on a NATO Science Fellowship, working with Drs. Najean, Bernard and Bessis. In 1965, Dr. Storb traveled to Seattle on a Fulbright Fellowship and began work in the Division of Hematology at the University of Washington with Dr. E. Donnall Thomas. It was here that Dr. Storb participated in the birth of the Seattle marrow transplantation program.
For the past 39 years, he has worked to develop new concepts in transplantation biology and apply them to patients. Studies included the demonstration of peripheral blood stem cells for allogeneic transplantation in the 1960s and 1970s, the importance of in vitro histocompatibility typing for outcome of related and unrelated transplants in the 1960s and 1970s, the definition of immunologic recovery after marrow transplantation, the development of conditioning programs for transplantation, uncovering the nature of graft-host tolerance, developing strategies of treating and preventing graft-vs-host disease, and studies on hematopoietic engraftment. Many transplantation protocols currently in use have been directly extrapolated from his studies.
One practical example of his work translated from preclinical studies into the clinic concerns the novel use of combination drug therapy to prevent graft-versus-host disease, which occurs when donor bone marrow reacts against the patient after transplantation. Dr. Storb’s formulated drug schedule is now the “gold standard” in use at centers worldwide. His work applied to patients with aplastic anemia has defined and improved treatments and increased the long-term survival of this patient group to greater than 90 percent. His current studies to develop protocols for establishing chimeric grafts, where the marrow is part donor and part patient, uses transplant regimens which have little toxicity and allow for the treatment of genetic and malignant diseases in both old and young patients in the outpatient setting. In these transplants, cures of malignancy are achieved through an allogeneic graft-vs-tumor effect rather than through the high-dose cytotoxic radiochemotherapy previously used.
Dr. Storb has won numerous awards for his work, including the Alexander von Humboldt Award, the Joseph Steiner Award, the Gustav Carus Prize of the German Academy of Natural Sciences, the Meyenburg Prize, the Henry M. Stratton Medal and the E. Donnall Thomas Prize from the American Society of Hematology, the Joseph H. Burchenal Clinical Research Award from the American Association for Cancer Research, and the Don Metcalf Lecture Award from the International Society of Experimental Hematology.
For the past 18 years, Dr. Storb has been the 10th most cited physician/scientist and the 43rd most cited overall scientist worldwide per SCIENCE WATCH. During that time he has also been the second most quoted researcher in the field of Oncology. Throughout the years, Dr. Storb has trained over 130 researchers in his laboratory, who are now raising the standard of hematopoietic cell transplantation biology research throughout the world.