Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Georg Friedrich (Fritz) Melchers, one of the leading scientists in the world in the field of immunology, holds the Johannes Gutenberg endowed professorship awarded by the "Freunde der Universität Mainz e. V." in 2007. His revolutionary research into the development of stem cells in the immune system and characterizing individual immune cells, has paved the way for the development of new and extensive immune therapies for allergies, chronic inflammations, tumor diseases, and autoimmune diseases. In his lecture series, he talks about "the conflicting nature of our immune system: protects from invasion, yet attacks itself." The professor of biochemistry and immunology is an external scientific member and has been a senior group leader for "leukocyte development" at the Max Planck Institute for Infectious Biology in Berlin since 2003. From 1980 to 2001, he was director of the Basel Institute of Immunology and turned it into one of the leading research sites in the world for molecular and clinical immunology.
Fritz Melcher sees inspiration for his research interest in the creativity unique to art and science and in the amazement of new discoveries. He is not only a creative scientist and respected university professor, but also a science communicator and international organizer in the field of science with a broad range of activity reaching far beyond his special expertise.
Fritz Melchers was born in 1936 in Berlin and studied Chemistry at the University of Cologne, where he graduated in 1964. He was then active at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, CA. From 1968, he worked as an assistant and senior assistant at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin. From 1970–1971, he joined the Weizmann Institute, Rehovot, Israel and the Department of Genetics, Stanford University Medical School, Stanford, CA as a visiting scientist and received his postdoctoral professorial qualification in Biology in 1971 at the University of Freiburg in Breisgau. He joined the Basel Institute of Immunology as a biochemist back in 1970. In his capacity as director from 1980 to 2001, he developed the institute into one of the leading research sites in the world. He also taught at the universities of Basel, Harvard, and Innsbruck, was a member of the University's executive board in Basel 1996 – 2003 and has been on the University's executive board of the Hanover Medical School since 2003. He was active as chair of the International Union of Immunological Societies from 1998–2001. Fritz Melchers is on numerous boards and committees and is also a member in several academies. He has also received numerous awards for his work in the field of science. He has received the Grand Cross of Merit, the Prausnitz medal from the Collegium Internationale Allergologicum Council at the University of Vienna, Robert-Koch-Prize winner, winner of the San Marino Prize for work in the field of infection immunology, and he received the Emil-von-Behring Prize in 2002 for his contributions to stem cell research. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Turku (Finland), Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia (USA), and the universities of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Würzburg and Leipzig.