Photo of cancer cells magnified under a microscope, showing their irregular shape and clustering formation.

Science YouTuber Philipp Dettmer: ‘Getting cancer was super-interesting’

Probably my favourite YouTube channel.

My poor parents sent me to a school outside the system, where people like me are put by worried parents to get any sort of degree. And there I had one teacher, an older lady, probably in her 60s, and my God I was afraid of her. I was 17 and ready to be a disturbance to everybody, and her method of teaching was basically to scream at you. She was teaching history, but she made stuff so interesting! And I distinctly remember sitting in her class being screamed at by her, and it hitting me: “Wow, this is so cool!”

It was like: “Hey, if you present stuff differently, it becomes fascinating!” And I hope with Kurzgesagt that I can create these moments for as many people as possible, this spark moment.


You had cancer at 32. How did that inform your interest in immunology?

It definitely strengthened it, because cancer is an immune-system failure, in a sense. It’s weird to say, but it was genuinely one of the most interesting experiences of my life. So, for example, the chemotherapy was working too well at some point and I basically didn’t have an immune system at all. Then I got some special drugs and my immune system bounced back so hard that I could have got cancer again. It was genuinely super-interesting.

A weird way of thinking about cancer, but love the curiosity. 😉

Do read the entire interview by The Guardian, and be sure to buy the book (getting it as a Christmas gift for myself).

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