Ralf Petterson, the former director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research Ltd (LICR), Stockholm Branch, passed away on November 3, 2011, after a long battle with cancer. Born in May 1945, Ralf grew up in Helsinki. He studied medicine and completed his M.D. and Ph.D. at Helsinki University. He established independent research in the area of virology at Helsinki University and spent two years as a post-doc in David Baltimore’s lab from 1976 to 1977.
Ralf was interested early on in the emerging field of molecular biology and ultimately became a pioneer in gene technology in the late 1970’s in Finland. In 1986 Ralf became the founding director of the Stockholm Branch of LICR at the Karolinska Institute. There he recruited independent research groups and developed a productive and vibrant research environment. Alongside his duties as the Director of the Ludwig Branch in Stockholm and a leader of his own research team, Ralf was strongly engaged in numerous other research activities. He served on the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine for many years and was its chairman from 1998 to 2000. Ralf worked extensively to develop and support a strong research climate in Finland. He was also a recipient of the D.K. Ludwig Award in 2008.
“Ralf confronted his illness as he approached life—head-on with dignity, grace and courage. He leaves behind a wonderful and loving family and a lasting imprint on cancer research. We are grateful for the leadership he provided and the friendship he so generously extended,” said Ed McDermott, President and CEO of LICR.
“All of us who had the privilege to know Ralf will remember his encyclopedic memory, vast scientific knowledge, remarkable friendliness, sense of humor, curiosity and eagerness to interact with all those he met,” said Dr. Thomas Perlmann, Director of LICR’s Stockholm Branch.
“The Institute is deeply grateful to Ralf for his many years of generous and supportive leadership as Director of the Stockholm Branch,” added Dr. Andrew Simpson, Scientific Director of LICR.