Robert Huber

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

Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1988

Former Professor of chemistry

born 20 Februar, 1937


Interview with TUM Emeritus of Excellence Robert Huber

"I Went Inside the Molecules"

Professor Robert Huber, together with his colleague and former doctoral student Johann Deisenhofer and Harmut Michel, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1988 for research into the three-dimensional structure of the reaction center of photosynthesis. This interview is a republication of the original interview with Professor Huber from October 2010. [read more]


In 1988, Robert Huber received the highest honor the world of science has to bestow: together with Hartmut Michel and Johann Dieisenhofer, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for the determination of the three-dimensional structure of a photosynthetic reaction center”. He studied, did his doctorate and post-doctoral qualification as professor in chemistry at the TUM, to which he remained attached as director of the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry. He had already begun to focus on crystallography for his dissertation, and he had established a protein crystallography laboratory in the early 1970s. Over the years, with the help of X-ray crystallography, he was able to demonstrate the structure of numerous proteins and protein complexes, including protease and their natural and synthetic inhibitors; metalloenzymes; immune system proteins; protein hormones and their receptors; protein kinases; amino acid biosynthesis enzymes; and energy and electron transfer proteins. Moreover, he developed and improved new devices and methods now standard in X-ray structural analysis – for example, the Patterson Method, graphic methods and the improvement of protein crystallization. Robert Huber is guest professor at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, the University of Duisburg-Essen, Cardiff University in the UK and Seoul National University in Korea. He is also co-founder of the biotech companies Proteros and Suppremol and a member of the academic advisory board of the Peter and Traudl Engelhorn Stiftung as well as several pharmaceutical companies. Robert Huber continues to conduct research at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry up to the present day.


Short biography

1960 - 1972 Study of chemistry, dissertation, post-doctoral professorial qualification, TUM
1972 - 2005 Academic member and director, Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Munich
1976 - 2005 Professor, TUM
since 2005 Director emeritus, Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Munich


Memberships and honors

Member of the German Chemical Society

Member of the Order Pour le Mérite for Sciences and Arts

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

Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina

Member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome

Member of the European Academy of Arts, Sciences and Humanities

Associate fellow, Third World Academy of Sciences, Trieste 

Foreign associate, National Academy of Sciences, USA

Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology

Foreign member of the Royal Society, London

Foreign fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi

Foreign member of the Korean Academy of Science and Technology, Korea

Honorary doctorates from the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium (1987); University of Ljubljana, Slovenia (1989); University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy (1991); Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal (2000); Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain (2000); Tsinghua University, Beijing, China (2003); Nagoya University, Japan (2008); Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina (2010); University of Vilnius, Lithuania (2011); Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia (2012), and the Universitatis Iagellonicae Cracoviensis, Poland (2014)


  • Otto-Warburg-Medal, Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (GBM) (1977)
  • Emil-von-Behring-Medal, University of Marburg (1982)
  • Keilin Medal, Biochemical Society, London (1987)
  • Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1988)
  • E. K. Frey - E. Werle Gedächtnismedaille (1989)
  • Sir Hans Krebs Medal, Federation of European Biochemical Societies, Dublin (1992)
  • Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art (1993)
  • Linus Pauling Medal (1993/1994)
  • Max Tishler Prize, Harvard University, US (1997)
  • Max-Bergmann Medal, Max Bergmann Kreis for the promotion of peptide chemical research (1997)
  • Grand Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (1997)
  • Premio Città di Firenze sulle Scienze Molecolari, Florence (2004)
  • Erice Prize – Premio Ettore Mjorana (2009)

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