Smart, passionate, innovative, enthusiastic, collaborative, caring, tireless—just a few of the superlatives that describe our US board members and their approach to guiding our organization as it grows to serve more donors and save more patients.
Peter Harf founded the non-profit organization DKMS (German Bone Marrow Donor Center) on May 28th 1991 together with Gerhard Ehninger, the hematologist who treated his first wife Mechtild Harf. Peter promised his wife to give as many leukemia patients as possible a second chance at life before she died of this disease. Since then, DKMS has registered more than 7.7 million donors and facilitated over 68,000 bone marrow transplants across the world. Peter received his MBA degree from Harvard Business School in 1974. He holds both a Diploma and a Doctorate in Economics from the University of Cologne.
For Katharina, the battle against blood cancer is personal. At 14 years old, she lost her mother to blood cancer. Although the family searched valiantly for a matching donor, her mother's life could not be saved. After her mother’s death, Katharina went to the United States to pursue her education. She graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 1999. Katharina went on to land prestigious jobs at renowned fashion labels such as Hugo Boss, Marie-Chantal and Louis Vuitton.
In 2004 Katharina joined her father who had founded DKMS upon her mother‘s death in Germany in 1991. Together father and daughter founded DKMS US in 2006. Here, Katharina devotes her time to finding lifesaving matches for patients suffering from a blood cancer or blood disorder.
Through her efforts, DKMS has established a nationwide donor recruitment program, recruiting over 10.6 million bone marrow donors in the U.S. Of those donors, over 5,000 have already donated their bone marrow to patients in need. Worldwide more than 91,000 of DKMS‘s donors have helped save lives.
Currently, Katharina lives in Los Angeles with her family including her loving daughter and continues to support DKMS globally.
In 2018, Elke Neujahr rejoined a cause that had long been close to her heart by becoming Global CEO of the DKMS Group. She also serves as Executive Vice-Chairwoman of the Board of Directors in the US and Chairwoman of the board in Poland, United Kingdom and South Africa. With a doctorate in communication sciences, Elke served national and international executives as an expert in all questions of corporate reputation, crisis, and change management. Initially holding a variety of positions in the industry, Elke ultimately switched to the consulting side of the corporate communications business. She has been Partner and CEO of a leading European PR Consultancy before she successfully ran her own company for 15 years. With her 40 years of expertise in general management she drives the development of the DKMS Group.
Sirko Geist has been Managing Director and the Chief Financial Officer of DKMS since 2013. He oversees the areas of finance and accounting as well as the administration and management of the DKMS locations. His responsibilities also include process and quality management and legal services. On an international level he is active in various roles on the boards of the local DKMS entities.
Sirko studied law at the Technical University of Dresden and graduated with the first state examination. He successfully completed his legal clerkship in the Chemnitz district of the regional court with the second state examination. He also holds a Master of Business Administration from the Danube University Krems.
After numerous years working for a leading auditing company, he worked in management positions within the textile industry. At the end of 2009, he started working as the Commercial Manager of the DKMS Life Science Lab and since then he has been working in different leading positions in the DKMS Group.
Dr. Dr. Alexander Schmidt has been Managing Director and the Chief Medical Officer of DKMS since 2013. He is responsible for all areas that provide professional information and advice as well as coordination and support for donors before, during and after a donation, thus ensuring safe bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell donations.
In addition, Alexander oversees the ongoing relationship management with transplant centers, search units and registries and the medical advice for all international DKMS entities. He and his teams are also responsible for various quality programs and scientific projects.
Alexander holds a doctorate in mathematics and medicine. After working as an intern at Heidelberg University Hospital, he worked as a management consultant with a focus on health care issues. He has been working for DKMS since 2002 in various management positions. He is also the Chief Executive Officer of the DKMS Life Science Lab and the DKMS Stem Cell Bank and Chief Scientific Officer of the DKMS Registry.
Sergio A. Giralt, Md, Facp, Chief, Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Service, Division of Hematologic Oncology, Department of Medicine
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College New York, NY
Sergio A. Giralt, MD is the Chief of the Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Service in the Division of Hematologic Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, New York. He is affiliated with Weill Cornell Medical College as a Professor of Medicine. He received his medical degree from Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas, Venezuela, and completed his postgraduate internship at the University Hospital of Caracas. He also completed an internal medicine residency at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio and a postdoctoral fellowship in hematology and oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Board certified in internal medicine and hematology, Dr. Giralt holds membership in several professional societies, including the American Society of Hematology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the North American Society of Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation, and the International Society of Haematology. He holds key positions with several organizations, including the International Bone Marrow Transplant Registry Executive Committee, the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network (BMTCTN) Steering Committee, the National Marrow Donor Program Board of Directors, and the Clinical Advisory Board of the Web site Managing Myeloma. He is the past President of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation as well as the Past Chair of the BMT-CTN and of the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research.
Dr. Giralt’s clinical research career has focused in three areas: 1) Developing better tolerated conditioning regimens for older or medically infirmed patients with hematological malignancies to allow them access to this procedure; 2) Developing novel HCT therapies (conditioning regimens plus post transplant therapies) for autologous and allogeneic HCT for myeloma and 3) Pursuing strategies that will significantly reduce HCT symptom burden and toxicities. As Chief of the Adult BMT Service, he has had extensive experience designing, implementing and performing HCT studies both as a principal investigator and as a collaborator.
Dr. Giralt has published over 400 articles and abstracts in the peer-reviewed literature and written chapters for several books. Additionally, Dr. Giralt is a reviewer and editorial board member for several journals.