Nikolaus Pfanner studied medicine in Munich and was trained in biochemistry and molecular cell biology in the laboratories of Walter Neupert (Munich, Germany) and James Rothman (Princeton, New Jersey). Since 1992 he has been a professor and Chairman of Biochemistry at the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Freiburg, Germany. His research interests include the mechanisms of intracellular protein sorting and assembly, and the function and biogenesis of mitochondria. He is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), the Academia Europaea, the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and, the Academy of Sciences Heidelberg. Nikolaus Pfanner has received the Max Planck Research Award, the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Award, and the Leopoldina Research Award. He has served as the Chairman of the Study Section of Biological Chemistry and Biophysics of the German Science Foundation and is currently the President of the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.