Horst Kessler

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dr. h.c.

Former professor of organic chemistry and biochemistry
TUM School of Natural Sciences

born April 5, 1940



The name Horst Kessler is most closely associated with “conformational analysis of peptides, in particular cyclical peptides”. In his work, Horst Kessler linked design to synthetic works, spectroscopic examination and molecular dynamics computations. These methods are now recognized as key processes for the development of new active substances. The question of directed influence of pharmacologically active conformation through ring formation led Horst Kessler to the field of cancer research. Some of the results of his basic research found their way into practice, such as the development of medicines to treat brain tumors or other cancers, the improvement of hip implants and early discovery and characterization of cancer metastases through molecular imaging. Horst Kessler contributed important methodological developments on nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR). In the last two decades, Horst Kessler applied these methods to proteins as well: for example, tumor suppressor protein p53 and its interaction partners as well as various heat shock proteins. His elucidation of terminal domains of spider silk protein, which explains the creation of extremely stable filament spun from the storage form, attracted great interest. He has received international recognition for his scientific and academic wor


Short biography

1958 – 1963 Studies in chemistry at the universities of Leipzig and Tübingen
1966 Doctorate in chemistry, University of Tübingen
1970 1970 Lecturer, University of Tübingen
1971 – 1988 1971-1988 Professor of organic chemistry, J.W. Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main
1989 – 2008 1989-2008 Chair of organic chemistry and biochemistry, TUM
since 2008 since 2008 Carl von Linde Senior Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, TUM


Memberships and honors

Establishment of the Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy section within the GDCh (1978); member (1978-1982) and chair (2001-2008) of its board of directors

Formation and founding of the Bavarian NMR Center at TUM

Member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BAdW) (since 1996)

Chairperson of the Max-Bergmann-Kreis (1991-1995), chair of the academic advisory council (1996-2001)

Member of the board of directors of the Medicinal Chemistry section of the GDCh (1995-2002)

Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (since 2002)

Peer reviewer for the German Research Foundation (DFG) (1996-2004)

Member (since 1996) and chair (1998-2005) of the board of trustees of the journal “Angewandte Chemie”

Honorary member of the Israel Chemical Society and the National Magnetic Resonance Society of India (2009)

Honorary member of the Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy section of the GDCh (2010)

Secretary of the mathematic-natural sciences division of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities


Visiting professorships

Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Kanada (1975)

University of Tokyo, Japan (1985)

Brittingham Guest Professorship, University of Winconsin, Madison, USA (1988)

Technion, Haifa, Israel (1990)

Vista Chemical Company Regents Endowed Memorial Lectureship, University of Texas, Austin, USA (1997)

Lady Davis Professor, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel (1998)



  • Otto Bayer Award, Bayer Foundation (1986)
  • Max Bergmann Medal for Peptide Chemistry (1988)
  • Emil-Fischer-Medal from the German Chemical Society (GDCh) (1997)
  • Max Planck Research Award (2001)
  • Vincent du Vigneaud Award from the American Peptide Society (2002)
  • Hans Herloff Inhoffen Prize from the GDCh (2002)
  • Honorary doctorate from the University of Leipzig  (2002)
  • Philip Morris Research Award (2003)
  • Burkhardt-Helferich-Award for Bioorganic Chemistry (2005)
  • Josef Rudinger Award from the European Peptide Society (2008)
  • Akabori Memorial Award from the Japanese Peptide Society (2012)
  • Meienhofer Award (2013)
  • Murray Goodman Endowed Lectureship (2015)
  • Bruce Merrifield Award from the American Peptide Society (2015)

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