SCS departments and LAS navigation

Rolf Thauer, 2007/08 Lecturer

photo Prof. Dr. Rolf ThauerRolf Thauer is Founding Director of the Max Planck Institute in Marburg and Professor of Microbiology at the Philipps University Marburg. He studied medicine and biochemistry at the Universities of Frankfurt, Tübingen and Freiburg, and earned his Ph.D. from Freiburg with Karl Decker in 1968. During his postdoc, he worked for 3 months in the laboratory of Harland G. Wood in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. Thauer has been interested in the biochemistry and physiology of strictly anaerobic bacteria since his Ph.D. work. In 1977 he published with Kurt Jungermann and Karl Decker (Bacteriological Reviews, Vol. 41, pp 100-180), which rapidly became a citation classic. From Clostridia he turned to sulfate reducing bacteria and methanogenic archaea growing on H2/sulfate and H2/CO2, respectively. In 1979 his group discovered that methanogenic archaea are dependent on nickel for growth, which led to the discovery of nickel in hydrogenases, in carbon monoxide dehydrogenases and in methyl-coenzyme M reductase. The latter enzyme was found to contain the nickel porphinoid F430 as prosthetic group, whose structure and biosynthesis was elucidated in collaboration with A. Eschenmoser.

Work in the 90's concentrated on the purification and characterization of the enzymes involved in CO2 reduction to methane. Subsequently the crystal structure of the enzymes were determined to obtain insight into their catalytic mechanism. His most recent studies deal with the elucidation of the structure and function of two novel cofactors, one involved in H2 activation and the other in anaerobic methane oxidation.

In addition to his research and teaching positions, Dr. Thauer served as Dean of the Faculty of Biology in Marburg (1981), as Vice President of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (1983 – 1987), and as Founding Director of the Max Planck Institute in Marburg since 1991.

Among his honors are the Otto Warburg Medaille(1984), the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize (1987), the Carus Medaille (1992), the A. J. Kluyver Memorial Lecture (1995), the Albert Neuberger Lecture (1997), the Marjory Stephenson Prize Lecture(1998) and the Honorary Doctorate of the ETH Zürich ( 2001). Since 1984 he is a member of the Leopodina and since 1987 of the Academia Europaea.

School of Chemical Sciences
106 Noyes Lab
505 S. Mathews
Urbana, IL  61801
Professor Jonathan Sweedler

(217) 333-5070
(217) 333-3120 fax
jsweedle [at] illinois [dot] edu
Please send comments and suggestions to:
scs-webmaster [at] illinois [dot] edu