Fakultät für Chemie und Pharmazie

Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Rolf Huisgen deceased

The faculty mourns the loss of Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Rolf Huisgen, who died on March 26, 2020, three months before his 100th birthday.


Rolf Huisgen was an outstanding, internationally renowned scientist who shaped organic chemistry in Germany in the second half of the 20th century like no other.

Born in Gerolstein / Eifel in 1920, he studied chemistry in Bonn and Munich and received his doctorate at the LMU in 1943 with a thesis entitled "Contributions to the knowledge of the strychnos alkaloid Vomicin" under the guidance of the Nobel Prize winner in chemistry. Huisgen habilitated here in 1947 and went to the University of Tübingen as an associate professor in 1949 before returning to LMU in 1952 as the successor of his teacher Heinrich Wieland. He retired in 1988, but continued his intensive publication activity until his 92nd birthday and continued to enrich the scientific discussions in the Department of Chemistry in the years that followed.

The development of the concept of 1,3-dipolar cycloadditions, today often referred to as Huisgen cycloadditions, represents the culmination of his scientific work. It is the most general method for the production of five-membered heterocycles, which today is part of the standard repertoire of organic synthesis and u. a. used in the manufacture of active ingredients. In recent years, the copper-catalyzed Huisgen reaction as a so-called click reaction has also gained enormous importance in biochemistry and bioorganic chemistry in order to introduce functional groups into protein, carbohydrate or DNA molecules in a targeted manner.

The great importance of Huisgen's work was quickly recognized. In the years 1961-1976 he was the most cited German natural scientist. Still in October 2019, he was chosen by the Institute for Scientific Information, which belongs to the Web of Science Group, together with the Danish chemist Morten Meldal, for the Citation Laureate 2019 in the entire field of chemistry.
Professor Huisgen has received numerous awards. These include the Liebig commemorative coin from the Society of German Chemists, the Roger Adams Award from the American Chemical Society, the Otto Hahn Prize for Chemistry and Physics, the Bavarian Order of Merit and the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art. As a member of several scientific academies and an honorary member of many chemical societies, he was known and valued worldwide.

With him, the faculty loses a brilliant scientist and exemplary academic teacher, whom she will always remember with great gratitude.