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Making A Difference

Founding a bone marrow donor bank that saves thousands of lives

Peter Harf (MBA 1974)

Peter Harf (MBA 1974) transformed Joh. A. Benckiser SE, a small, privately held German company into a global powerhouse, but it’s his cofounding of Delete Blood Cancer DKMS that he considers his most important role. Since 1991, the nonprofit has helped more than 40,000 patients receive a second chance at life through bone marrow donations, and has registered more than 4 million bone marrow donors worldwide.

After losing his first wife to blood cancer, Harf and his wife’s physician launched DKMS. With his daughter, Katharina, Harf has built it into the most successful organization of its kind in the world, helping thousands of patients with leukemia and other life-threatening diseases in need of matching donors to save their lives. Because a close genetic match is necessary, even with a registry of millions, 6 out of 10 patients never receive the lifesaving transplant they need. Against those odds, the Harfs just work harder.

At HBS, Harf gained an appreciation for teamwork. “I learned how…the sum of the parts is always much bigger than what you can do alone.”

(Published April 2014)