Scripps Research professor Kurt Wüthrich. Photo credit: Christopher P. Michel, NAS

Nobel laureate Kurt Wüthrich, PhD, has been elected to the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, one of the oldest and most prestigious scientific institutions in the world. The honor recognizes Wüthrich’s outstanding contributions to the biological sciences and their applications.

As the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Professor of Structural Biology at Scripps Research, Wüthrich is known for pioneering nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods for studying proteins and other large biological molecules. By obtaining critical information about molecular structures, Wüthrich’s lab has made seminal discoveries in the areas of immune suppression, differentiation in higher organisms, and neuropathologies, such as prion diseases. More recently, Wüthrich and colleagues have also undertaken projects focused on healthcare and aging, including the impact of sarcopenia (gradual muscle loss) on human health span.

The scope of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei is to promote, coordinate, integrate and spread scientific knowledge in its highest expression, in the unity and universality of culture. As a fellow of the academy, Wüthrich joins an elite long list of renowned scientific thinkers, including Galileo Galilei, Louis Pasteur and Albert Einstein. 

Wüthrich has received many other esteemed awards and honors during his career. In 2002, he was awarded half of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for “his development of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for determining the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules in solution,” which followed earlier awards, including the Prix Louis-Jeantet de Medicine and the Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology. He shares this combination of awards across disciplines with an alumni of Scripps Research, the late Sydney Brenner. Wüthrich is a Foreign Member of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as a member of the Royal Society in the United Kingdom, the Académie des Sciences in France and the German Academy Leopoldina. In addition, he has been awarded 16 honorary degrees in 11 countries.

Wüthrich earned his doctoral degree in chemistry from the University of Basel in Switzerland. He joined the faculty at Scripps Research in 2001.