Daniel Besser studied biology at the Freie Universität Berlin and obtained his diploma in 1990. He received his PhD in 1996 from the university of Basel with a thesis from the Friedrich-Miescher-Institute, Basel on signal transduction in the gene regulation of urokinase-type plasminogen activator. He worked at Rockefeller University, New York until 2004 in the laboratories of Hidesaburo Hanafusa and James E. Darnell on Stat3 signaling and the function of c-Src; and from 2002 on pluripotency in embryonic stem cells in the lab of Ali H. Brivanlou. He has been leader of a research group at the Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin until 2011 focusing his research on signal transduction mechanisms in human and murine embryonic stem cells.
Since 2012 he is managing director of the German Stem Cell Network (GSCN). The GSCN is fostering national and international scientific communications, as well as developing outreach programs for schools and the general public in Germany.