Ernst Hafen obtained his PhD from the Biocenter at the University of Basel in 1983. From 1984 to 1986 he worked at the University of California in Berkeley as a postdoctoral fellow before joining the University of Zurich as an assistant professor in 1987. He was promoted to full professor in 1997. From 2005 to 2006 he served as president of ETH Zurich. Since 2005 he holds a professorship at the Institute of Molecular Systems Biology at ETH Zurich.
Hafen has made several seminal contributions to the field of developmental biology and cell biology including the characterization of genes and the corresponding signaling pathways involved in cell fate specification and in the control of cell and body size. He has received several prizes and has served on the Editorial Boards of various journals and scientific committees. With initiatives such as midata.coop and the Association Data and Health he is exploring to discuss legal, ethical and societal issues about health data ownership and to find commercial models permitting owners not third parties to benefit from their personal data assets.
At Lift Basel, Hafen is a member of the advisory board and joins the discussion in the panel “Moving Fast in Old Europe”, debating cooperative models for citizen science and for a data democracy that could Europe again give an important advantage in creating sustainable value from the data in health and beyond.