Kurt Wuthrich, PhD

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


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, Scripps Research, La Jolla, CA, USA and 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 1, 2019, research using NMR techniques is continued at ShanghaiTech University, with a focus on 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.   


Ph.D., Chemistry, University of Basel, 1964

Professional Experience

1957–62, University of Bern, Switzerland: Lizentiat in chemistry, physics and mathematics

1962–64, University of Basel, Switzerland: Ph.D. in chemistry (Prof. S. Fallab); Eidgenössisches Turn- und Sportlehrerdiplom

1964–65, University of Basel, Switzerland: Postdoctoral training (Prof. S. Fallab)

1965–67, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA : Postdoctoral training (Prof. R.E. Connick)

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

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 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

Selected References

Sušac, L., Eddy, M.T., Didenko, T., Stevens, R.C. and Wüthrich, K. (2019) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 115, 12733–12738. A2A adenosine receptor functional states characterized by 19F-NMR.

Shimada, I., Ueda, T., Kofuku, Y., Eddy, M.T. and Wüthrich, K. (2019) 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.

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