Kurt Wuthrich, PhD

Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Professor of Structural Biology
Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology


Scripps Research Joint Appointments

Department of Chemistry
The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology
Faculty, Graduate Program

Research Focus

For 50 years, Wüthrich groups at the ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland, at Scripps Research, La Jolla, CA, USA and at the iHuman Institute of ShanghaiTech University, Shanghai, China have worked on nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) with biological macromolecules. Contributions include the method for macromolecular structure determination with NMR in solution and the use of the principles of transverse relaxation-optimized spectroscopy (TROSY) for NMR experiments with large supramolecular assemblies. Applications over the years were focused on differentiation in higher organisms, immune suppression and neuropathology.  As of April 2019, research using NMR techniques is continued at ShanghaiTech University, with a focus on trans-membrane signal transfer by G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). At Scripps Research and the ETH Zürich, projects on the general theme “healthcare in the ageing human societies of the 21st century” are pursued, mainly considering the impact of sarcopenia on the human healthspan.   


Lizentiat, in chemistry, physics and mathematics, University of Bern, Switzerland
Ph.D., Chemistry (Prof. S. Fallab); Eidgenössisches Turn- und Sportlehrerdiplom, University of Basel, Switzerland
Postdoctoral Training, (Prof. S. Fallab), University of Basel, Switzerland
Postdoctoral Training, (Prof. R.E. Connick), University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA

Professional Experience

1967–69, Bell Telephone Laboratories, Murray Hill, N.J., USA: Member Technical Staff, Biophysics Department (Dr. R.G. Shulman)

1969–present, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland: Privatdozent (70), Assistant Professor (72), Associate Professor (76), Professor of Biophysics (80); Chairman Biology Department (95–2000)

2001–04, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA: Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Visiting Professor of Structural Biology

2004–present, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA: Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Professor of Structural Biology

Visiting Faculty Appointments 

1988, November: Visiting Miller Research Professor, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA.

1992, February–March: Scholar in Residence, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.

1994, February–June: Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar, Caltech, Pasadena, CA, USA.

1994, October–December: Guest Scientist, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA.

1995, February–April: Visiting Associate in Biology and Chemistry, Caltech, Pasadena, CA, USA.

1997–98, For two months: Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), Tokyo, Japan.

1997–00, Visiting Professor, Dept. of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.

2006–08, Underwood International College Distinguished Professor, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea.

2006– present, Honorary Professor of Science, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

2009–13, WCU Distinguished Professor, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea.

2011– present, Honorary Visiting Professor, Universität Duisburg–Essen, Germany.

2012–16, Pesquisador Visitante Especial, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

2013–present, Distinguished Senior Professor, iHuman Institute, ShanghaiTech University, Shanghai, China.

2014–present, Adjunct Distinguished Professor, Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST), Daegu, Korea.

Awards & Professional Activities

1974, Friedrich-Miescher-Preis, Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Biochemie

1983, Shield of the Faculty of Medicine, Tokyo University, Japan

1986, Médaille P. Bruylants, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium

1990, Stein and Moore Award of the Protein Society, USA

1991, Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, Columbia University, New York, USA

1991, Gilbert Newton Lewis Medal, University of California, Berkeley, USA

1992, Marcel Benoist-Preis, awarded by the Swiss Confederation

1993, Distinguished Service Award, The Miami Bio/Technology Winter Symposia, USA

1993, Prix Louis Jeantet de Médecine, Fondation Louis Jeantet, Geneva, Switzerland

1996, Kaj Linderstrøm-Lang Prize, Carlsberg Foundation, Copenhagen, Denmark

1997, Eminent Scientist of RIKEN, Tokyo, Japan

1998, Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology, Inamori Foundation, Kyoto, Japan

1999, Günther Laukien Prize, Experimental NMR Conference (ENC), USA

1999, Otto-Warburg-Medaille, Gesellschaft für Biochemie und Molekularbiologie, Germany

2001, Médaille d‘Honneur en Argent, Société d‘Encouragement au Progrès, Paris, France

2002, Nobel Prize in Chemistry

2002, World ‘Future’ Award, The World Awards, Wien, Austria

2002, Swiss ‘Society’ Award, The Swiss Awards, Zürich, Switzerland

2002, Ehrenpreis 2002, City of Wallisellen, Switzerland

2003, Honorary Member, Wallisellen Football Club, Switzerland

2003, Honorary Citizenship, City of Lyss, Switzerland

2008, Johannes M. Bijvoet Medal, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

2008, Paul Walden Medal, Riga Technical University, Riga, Latvia

2009, Jabir ibn Hyyan (Geber) Medal, Saudi Chemical Society, Saudi Arabia

2010, Ralph and Helen Oesper Award, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA

2012, President’s Gold Medal, Government of India

2013, Theodor Bücher Medal, Federation of European Biochemical Societies

2015, IUBMB Medal

2016, Shanghai 1,000 Talents Award

Honorary Degrees

1997, Dottore ad Honorem in Chimica, Università degli Studi di Siena, Italy.

1997, Dr. phil. honoris causa, Universität Zürich, Switzerland.

2001, Docteur honoris causa, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland.

2004, Doctor honoris causa, Universitat de València, Spain.

2004, Doctor of Science honoris causa, University of Sheffield, UK.

2004, Profesor Extraordinario con distinción de Académico Ilustre, U.N. Mar del Plata, Argentina.

2005, Doctor of Science honoris causa, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow, India.

2007, Doctor of Medicine honoris causa, University of Pécs, Hungary.

2007, Doctor of Chemistry honoris causa, Universidad del Norte, Asunción, Paraguay.

2007, Doctor honoris causa, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia.

2007, Laurea Specialistica in Biotechnology honoris causa, University of Verona, Italy.

2007, Docteur honoris causa, Université René Descartes, Paris, France.

2012, Laurea Magistrale in Pharmacology honoris causa, Università degli Studi di Napoli, Italy.

2015, Doctor honoris causa in Phamacology, University of Patras, Greece.

2015, Doctor honoris causa, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

2016, Doctor honoris causa, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina.

2017, Genome Valley Excellence Award, BioAsia, Hyderabad, India.

Honorary Memberships in Academies and Professional Societies

1984, European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO).

1987, Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina.

1989, Academia Europaea.

1989, Foreign Fellow, Indian National Science Academy.

1992, Foreign Associate, US National Academy of Sciences.

1992, Honorary Fellow, The National Academy of Sciences, India.

1993, Foreign Honorary Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

1993, Honorary Member, Japanese Biochemical Society.

1998, Honorary Member, National Magnetic Resonance Society of India.

1998, AAAS Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

2000, Associé étranger, Académie des Sciences, Institut de France.

2001, Schweizerische Akademie der Technischen Wissenschaften (SATW).

2002, Schweizerische Akademie der Medizinischen Wissenschaften (SAMW).

2002, IUPAC Fellow.

2003, Honorary Fellow, The Royal Society of Chemistry, UK (HonFRSC).

2003, Honorary Fellow, The Royal Society of Edinburgh, UK (HonFRSE).

2003, Honorary Member, Swiss Chemical Society.

2003, Titular Member, European Academy of Arts, Sciences and Humanities.

2004, Honorary Member, International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.

2004, Honorary Member, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

2004, Honorary Member, World Academy of Young Scientists.

2004, Honorary Member, World High Technology Society, Dalian, China.

2004, Honorary Member, European Academy of Sciences and Arts.

2004, Foreign Member, Latvian Academy of Sciences.

2004, Honorary Member, Groupement Ampère.

2004, Honorary Member, The Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Society of Japan.

2005, Honorary Member, Indian Biophysical Society.

2005, Corresponding Member, Nordrhein-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften.

2005, Foreign Member, The Korean Academy of Science and Technology.

2005, Honorary Member, The Korean Magnetic Resonance Society.

2008, Honorary Fellow, Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis, Riga, Latvia.

2008, ISMAR Fellow.

2010, Foreign Member, The Royal Society, UK (ForMem RS).

2012, Honorary Fellow, The Spanish Biophysical Society.

2013, Corresponding Member, Academia Brasileira de Ciências.

2017, JMR Fellow, Journal of Magnetic Resonance, USA.

Selected References

Aubol, B.E., Serrano, P., Fattet, L., Wüthrich, K. and Adams, J.A. (2018) J. Biol. Chem. 293, 16751–16760. Molecular interactions connecting the function of the serine-arginine-rich protein SRSF1 to protein phosphatase 1.

Shimada, I., Ueda, T., Kofuku, Y., Eddy, M.T. and Wüthrich, K. (2018) Nat. Rev. Drug Disc. 18, 59–82.
GPCR drug discovery: integrating solution NMR data with crystal and cryo-EM structures.

Eddy, M.T., Lee, M.-Y., Gao, Z.-G., White, K.L., Didenko, T., Horst, R., Audet, M., Stanczak, P., McClary, K.M., Han, G.W., Jacobson, K.A., Stevens, R. and Wüthrich, K.(2018) Cell 172, 68–80.
Allosteric coupling of drug binding and intracellular signaling in the A2A adenosine receptor.

Liu, J.J., Horst, R., Katritch, V., Stevens, R.C. and Wüthrich, K. (2012) Science 335, 1106–1110. Biased signaling pathways in β2-adrenergic receptor characterized by 19F-NMR.

Wüthrich, K. (2003) Angew.Chem. Int. Ed. 42, 3340−3363. NMR studies of structure and function of biological macromolecules (Nobel Lecture).

Fiaux, J., Bertelsen, E., Horwich, A. and Wüthrich, K. (2002) Nature 418, 207–211. NMR analysis of a 900K GroEL–GroES complex. 

Pervushin, K., Riek, R., Wider, G. and Wüthrich, K. (1997) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 94, 12366–12371. Attenuated T2 relaxation by mutual cancellation of dipole–dipole coupling and chemical shift anisotropy indicates an avenue to NMR structures of very large biological macromolecules in solution

Riek, R., Hornemann, S., Wider, G., Billeter, M., Glockshuber, R. and Wüthrich, K. (1996) Nature 382, 180–182. NMR structure of the mouse prion protein domain PrP(121–231).

Otting, G., Liepinsh, E. and Wüthrich, K. (1991) Science 254, 974–980. Protein hydration in aqueous solution.

Wüthrich, K. (1986) NMR of Proteins and Nucleic Acids, Wiley, New York.

Wüthrich, K. (1969) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 63, 1071–1078. High resolution proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy of cytochrome c.


Wüthrich Wins 2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Wüthrich Group at ETH Zürich

Wüthrich Group at iHuman