History of the Biochemical Institute

In 1853 rooms were set aside in a hospital (Akademisches Krankenhaus an der Prüne) for physiological experiments. These were directed by the Dane PETER L. PANUM (1820-1885), the first full professor of phy­si­ol­ogy (1857) in Kiel. Even at that time, the university offered a special course in physiological chem­is­try.
VICTOR HENSEN (1835-1924), who had come to Kiel in 1858, succeeded Panum in 1864 as full professor and attempted to establish physiological chemistry as a subject in its own right. He delivered lectures on physiological chemistry and offered special practical courses. Hensen is said to be the founder of plankton research and his name is perpetuated in the terms Hensenscher Knoten and Hensensche Stüt­zzel­len. Biochemistry was separated from physiology .
In 1878 the institute was moved to a new building near the present-day university hospitals. The buil­ding was destroyed in 1944.
FRIEDRICH KLEIN (1852-1922) habilitated in 1896 in physiological chemistry and physiology and in 1911 became associate professor of physiological chemistry at the Institute of Physiology. He is known for his studies on liver proteins and his experiments to elucidate the physiology of the eye.
ALBRECHT BETHE (1872-1954) was appointed director in 1911 and under his supervision the Institute grew. However, in 1914 he took up a position in Frankfurt.
RUDOLF HÖBER (1873-1953) had come from Zürich to Kiel in 1909 as an assistant of Hensen and became full professor in 1920 upon the suggestion of his mentor. His book »Physikalische Chemie der Zellen und Gewebe«, first published in 1902, became a classic. In 1933 he was forced to resign and left Germany in 1938 for the United States of America. The street on which the current Biochemisches Institut is situated is named after him.
OTTO MEYERHOF (1884-1951), a student of Höber in Zürich, worked at the Institute from 1913 to 1924. Since physiological chemistry was no longer supported by the faculty, he could not become the successor to Klein. Only in 1923, after he had received the Nobel Prize in 1922 together with A. V. Hill for his pioneering work »Über die Energieumwandlung im Muskel«, did the faculty allow him to teach. In 1924 he was appointed director in the institute of cell physiology at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Biologie in Berlin. He also had to emigrate to the United States of America.
AUGUST PÜTTER (1879-1929) became director of the Institute in 1922 but presented the subject physiology with very little interest in biochemistry. This resulted in termination of all activities in physiological chem­istry by the Medical Faculty of the University.
HEINRICH SCHADE (1876-1935), a doctor of Internal Medicine, wrote on Physikalische Chemie in der Inneren Medizin. In 1929, the Medical Faculty approved his work and reserved a part of the Esmarch-Haus for these studies. At the opening ceremony of the Department, W. Ostwald spoke of the »Institut für Physikalisch-Chemische Medizin«. In 1933 Schade was appointed full professor for applied chemistry.

HANS NETTER (1899-1977), who pursued his scientific career from the beginning in Kiel, was appointed associate professor in 1936. One year later he became full professor for physiological chemistry and physico-chemistry in medicine. Under his directorship, in 1942, the Institute was renamed »Institut für Physiologische Chemie und Physikochemie«. Since this building was destroyed in 1944, teaching con­ti­nu­ed in the school of agriculture in Kappeln, called »University at the Country Road«. Netter’s reputation attracted many colleagues to Schleswig-Holstein, and on August 31, 1945, officials met to visit the remaining buildings in Kiel suitable for a new beginning of research and teaching. The building chosen was part of a factory and was situated in an area, which later became the campus of the newly built University. During Hans Netter’s time, more than 40 years, the Institute’s reputation increased. Netter succeeded in gaining the appropriate position in biochemistry for physico-chemical research and described his ideas in the well-known books »Biologische Physikochemie« (1950) and »Theoretische Biochemie« (1959).

In 1967/68 the Institute was enlarged and named OTTO-MEYERHOF-HAUS. A plaque outside the build­ing commemorates Meyerhof’s outstanding scientific success:
KIEL 1913-1924
On January 1, 1969, KLAUS KRISCH (1928-1975) began his work as successor to Netter, while Netter continued to work in the Institute as an emeritus professor. Krisch, whose research concentrated on the occurrence and metabolism of esterases, died untimely in 1975. Krisch’s work was continued by his co­worker EBERHARD HEYMANN (born 1938) who moved to Osnabrück in 1985 as associate professor.
FRIEDRICH KLINK (1929–2023) became associate professor on July 22, 1971 and retired on September 30, 1994. He had been occupied with molecular biological studies of protein synthesis, e.g. elongation factors in Archaebacteria.
BENT HAVSTEEN (born 1933 in Copenhagen) was appointed full professor to a second chair in the Institute on October 1, 1972 and retired on September 30, 1998. Among other topics he focussed on kinetics of enzyme reactions. His associate HILMAR LEMKE (1940-2020) worked on the molecular biology of the immune response. Together with his colleagues, he generated the famous antibody Ki67, which is used worldwide to detect cell proliferation.
In 1973 the Institute, integrated in the Medical Faculty and closely linked to the natural science and agricultural faculties was renamed »Biochemisches Institut« (Otto-Meyerhof-Haus).
On December 1, 1976, ROLAND SCHAUER (1936–2019) became Krisch’s suc­ces­sor. His main research interest was the biochemistry and physiological role of the carbohydrate mo­ie­ties of proteins and lipids, especially sialic acids. He also published a review about the history of biochemistry and biophysics in Kiel (in German).
In 1993 the Institute was enlarged by a new building, which was named EDUARD-BUCHNER-HAUS in honour of a scientist, who had worked at the Chemical Institute of the University of Kiel. There, he had set the foundations for his pioneering work on cell-free fermentation, which was rewarded the Nobel-Prize in 1907 and is mentioned on a plaque in this new building:
Kiel 1893-1896
VOLKMAR GIESELMANN (born 1955 in Recklinghausen) became associate professor on October 1st, 1994, as successor of F. Klink and worked until his move to Bonn in summer 1999 on the biochemistry and genetics of lysosomal enzymes.
With the beginning of the summer term 2000, STEFAN ROSE-JOHN (born 1954 in Heidelberg) became Bent Havsteen’s successor and started to work at the Institute. His research is centered around the function of cytokines, chemokines and metalloproteinases in the human immune system. In 2010 he founded the Collaborate Research Centre 877 (Proteolysis as a Regulatory Event in Pathophysiology), which was renewed in 2014 and 2018. In 12 years, the Collaborate Research Centre 877 was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft with more than 30 Million €.
PAUL SAFTIG (born 1962 in Hennef) joined the Institute in 2001 to become successor of V. Gieselmann. Paul Saftig’s research focusses on proteases involved in the function of lysosomes and in the pa­tho­physiology of Alzheimer’s disease.
URSULA JUST (born 1960 in Freyung) became associate professor in summer 2003 as the successor of Roland Schauer. She was interested in differentiation in hematopoietic stem cells. In 2014 she took a position as a guest scientist at the Max Planck Institute in Bad Nauheim until she retired in 2020.
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CHRISTOPH BECKER-PAULY (born 1975 in Dorsten) joined the Biochemical Institute in 2011 as junior professor. In 2012 he was appointed associate professor and successor to U. Just. In 2018 he became full professor of Biochemistry as a second chair in the Biochemical Institute. He works on the protease web comprising proteolytic enzymes, substrates, inhibitors, and regulatory proteins in health and disease.
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Letzte Änderung / Last change: Februar 18, 2023