Torsten Hafferlach
Torsten Hafferlach

MLL. Munick Leukemia Laboratory, Munich

Prof Dr Dr Torsten Haferlach is one of the world’s leading experts in the field of leukemia; engaging in ground breaking research, the development of new diagnostic tools as well as the link to treatment options, he has always been pushing its boundaries of his chosen field. 

With an MD in medicine as well as a PhD in Germanistics, and a habilitation that already sets standards in the leukemia diagnostic field, he spent the first part of his career as a medical doctor and hematologist, first at the university clinics in Kiel and Göttingen then at the university clinic in Munich (LMU) where he acted as both the senior physician at the Department of Internal Medicine and the Head of the Laboratory for Leukaemia diagnostics.

In 2005 he set up the Munich Leukemia Laboratory (www.mll.com) together with three colleagues from complementary disciplines. Today the lab processes with a team of 210 employees over 95,000 blood or bone marrow samples per year, his practice treats more than 4,500 patients, and he is one of the major contributors to knowledge in this area: well over 610 articles have been published in top ranking, peer-reviewed medical journals together with his MLL team and international collaborators since the lab’s inception. 

Prof Haferlach himself has authored and co-authored more than 590 articles over the course of his career. He is constantly contributing to the evaluation and dissemination of scientific knowledge in his chosen field: as reviewer of leading journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, Blood, Leukemia, Haematologica, British Journal of Haematology and The Lancet Haematology, as member of editorial boards for journals such as Leukemia, Annals of Hematology, as sought-after speaker on medical conferences around the world, and by serving on the advisory boards of companies such as Illumina, Novartis, Pfizer, Astellas and Gilead. 

He founded in 2018 the Torsten Haferlach Leukemia Diagnostics Foundation (https://www.torsten-haferlach-leukaemiediagnostik-stiftung.de/en.html) to support diagnosis and research in leukemia and lymphoma. More than 20 PhD students since then visited the MLL to work in the rich data set of the lab including also data on more than 5,000 genomes and transciptoms. Several peer reviewed papers and congress talks and posters were delivered. Further, together with ICAL (Prof. Peter Valk, Rotterdam) and ASH and also in part supported by Illumina, in six labs and 5 countries in South America for the first time NGS facilities were installed sponsored by this foundation. After Covid pandemia many new projects will be starting. 

Prof Haferlach´s focus today is on lab automation, digitalization and especially the clinical application of artificial intelligence (AI) in hematologic diagnostics.  This is meant to scale up all diagnostic techniques, readouts and even reporting. Cloud based options are used and AI algorithms powered by MLL and the two partners AWS and MetaSystems are tested today or are already applied in routine workflows in MLL.  This all will support the necessary move from phenotype to genotype. The gap from state-of-the-art diagnostics to individual therapy will be addressed in another project including new partners starting soon.