Erich Sackmann

Prof. Dr. rer. nat.

Former professor of experimental physics
TUM School of Natural Sciences

born November 26, 1934


Scientific work

Erich Sackmann is considered to be the founder of biophysics in Germany. At the beginning of his academic career, he dedicated himself to the photophysics of organic crystals as well as the physics and uses of liquid crystals. Afterwards, he focused his interest on the physical basis of self-organization and the function of artificial and biological membranes as well as the physics of the cell. Since his move to university, he put intensive effort into developing a syllabus for biophysics. He initiated and established a work group for biophysics within the German Physical Society (DPG). His working area is influenced by numerous interdisciplinary and international collaborations, which also led to three Collaborative Research Centers (SFB) in the German Research Foundation (DFG). In recognition of the ground-breaking results of his research on understanding the dynamics of membranes and biopolymer networks, the mechanical properties of cells as well as cell surface interaction, Erich Sackmann was awarded the DFG’s Stern-Gerlach Prize in 2006. He has been working on his current research project “Fundamental Physics” in TUM’s Institute for Advanced Study since 200


Short biography

1955 – 1961 Studies in physics, LMU, Munich, TH Stuttgart
1961 – 1964 Doctorate in physics, TH Stuttgart
1966 – 1968 Visiting researcher at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Murray Hill, NJ, USA
1968 – 1974 Research associate at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen
1974 – 1980 Professor of experimental physics, University of Ulm
1980 – 2003 Professor of experimental physics, TUM


Memberships and honors

Member of the American Biophysical Society

Member of the American Physical Society

Member of the German Physical Society (DPG)

Member of the Institute of Physics, UK

Member of the academic advisory board of the Leibniz Institute for New Materials (INM), Saarbrücken

Member of the academic advisory board of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

Member of the advisory board of the German Museum, Munich

President of the German Biophysical Society (DGfB) (1974-1980)

Fellow of the American Physical Society (2002)

Honorable member of the German Biophysical Society (DGfB) (2004)

Founder and chairperson of the work group for biophysics in the German Physical Society (DPG) (2003-2005)

Active member of the editorial board for the journals Acta Biomaterialia (since 2002) and Physical Review E (2013)


Scientific projects

Participation in the German Research Foundation (DFG) Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 413: Dynamics and regulation of cytoskeleton dependent motile activities (1997)

Spokesperson for the DFG’s Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 266: Organization and function regulation of synthetic and biological interphase using macromolecules and molecule aggregates (1986-2000)

Participation in the DFG’s Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 563: Bioorganic functionnal systems on solids (2000)


Visiting professorships

Visiting professor, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIAR) (1990-1996)

Visiting professor, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA (2005)

Visiting professor, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland (2008)



  • Wolfgang-Ostwald-Prize from the German Colloid Society (2000)
  • Stern-Gerlach-Prize from the German Physical Society (DPG) (2006)

You can download "Explanations of honors and awards" here [PDF 215 KB]