Otto Warburg Medal

The Otto Warburg Medal (OWM) is an annual prize awarded by the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Gesellschaft für Biochemie und Molekularbiologie, GBM) since 1963.


It honours and encourages pioneering achievements in fundamental biochemical and molecular biological research and is regarded as the highest award for biochemists and molecular biologists in Germany. Eight of the prize-winners have received the Nobel prize including the 2013 laureate, Prof. Randy W. Schekman. The medal has been endowed with prize money of 25,000 euros sponsored exclusively by Elsevier and its flagship set of life sciences journals, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA). The prize is intended to commemorate the achievements of the eminent researcher Otto Heinrich Warburg and has been awarded since 1963 while enjoying great international prestige.

The German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Gesellschaft für Biochemie und Molekularbiologie, GBM) is the largest organisation for life sciences in Germany. With its almost 5,500 members, it is committed to serving the interests of all those working and researching in the dynamic and promising disciplines of chemistry, medicine and biology – from professors to first-year students. Whether it is the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), journalists, the authorities, or professional associations in other disciplines: anyone needing to call on expertise in questions of biochemistry and molecular biological sciences turns first and foremost to the GBM.

Otto Warburg Medal 2020

Prof. Patrick Cramer

Elsevier is pleased to announce Prof. Patrick Cramer, a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, as the recipient of this year’s Otto Warburg Medal. For more information, click here.

Otto Warburg Medal 2019 - Highlights

Prof. Dr. Marina Rodnina awarded the 2019 Otto Warburg Medal

In a ceremony on 26 September, the Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (GBM), Elsevier and the flagship set of BBA journals honored Prof. Rodnina for her research on ribosomes. Her work has lead to the minimization of mistakes in protein biosynthesis and more.

Watch this video in which Prof. Dr. Rodnina talks about her research.

Read Prof. Dr. Rodina's interview on challenges and opportunities in ribosome research and obstacles for women in STEM here.

Photo session Gesellschaft für Biochemie

Otto Warburg Medal 2018 - Highlights

Optogenetics pioneer Professor Peter Hegemann awarded the 2018 Otto Warburg Medal

On March 23, Elsevier, GBM and the flagship set of BBA journals honored Prof. Hegemann for his research in light-activated ion-channels. His insights could eventually contribute to the treatment of neuronal illnesses, which are based on impaired sensory cells – conditions that include Parkinson's disease, autism and schizophrenia.

Read more about Prof. Hegemann's work and how he encourages young researchers to pursue a career in science.

Otto Warburg Medal 2017 - Highlights

Prof. Dr. Stefan Jentsch posthumously receives Otto Warburg Medal 2017

For the first time in its long history, the OWM was awarded posthumously to Prof. Dr. Stefan Jentsch on September 25, 2017. Elsevier's BBA together with the GBM honored the cell biologist with the prestigious award for his research on the protein ubiquitin and its role as a molecular switch in a variety of cellular processes.

Prof. Jentsch's work provided new insights into the molecular mechanisms of the mutagenesis, which are crucial for understanding the development of genetic diseases and cancer. "Prof. Jentsch was an important scientist who will continue to influence modern cell research, even after his death," said Prof. Johannes Herrmann, President of the GBM. "We are humbled to posthumously honor him with the Otto-Warburg-Medal."

Sadly, Prof. Jentsch passed away at the age of 61 in October 2016. So his brother, Prof. Thomas Jentsch, accepted the award. The Elsevier/BAA-sponsored prize money of 25,000 Euros, which the Otto-Warburg-Medal is endowed with, will be donated to the organization Doctors Without Borders.

Read more about Prof. Jentsch’s work and the uncommonly emotional ceremony that took place.

As an additional token of recognition, the award organizers produced this video to commemorate Prof. Jentsch and his invaluable contribution to biochemistry and molecular biology:

Otto Warburg Medal 2016

Prof. Emmanuelle Charpentier was awarded the 2016 Otto-Warburg-Medal

On April 1st, 2016, the GBM, together with its cooperation partners Elsevier and BBA, honored Prof. Charpentier with the renowned science award for the development of the CRISPR-Cas9-system as a tool for the editing of genetic material and for further research on the functions of genes. 

The method developed by Charpentier, which allows the correction of defective DNA sequences, can serve the development of treatment options for diseases. The scientist receives a prize money of 25.000 Euro, which is intended to cover her further research work.

2016 Otto Warburg Medal

Otto Warburg Medal 2015

Prof. Nikolaus Pfanner awarded the 2015 Otto Warburg Medal

On 5 July, GBM, Elsevier and BBA honored Prof. Nikolaus Pfanner, a world-leading cell biologist at the University of Freiburg, for his findings on the biogenesis of cell organelles and the transportation routes of proteins through the membranes of mitochondria.

Read this article in which Prof. Pfanner talks about the relevance of his work to medicine and the importance of basic research.

2015 Otto Warburg Medal

Otto Warburg Medal 2014

Prof. Rudolf Jaenisch awarded 2014 The Otto Warburg Medal

In 2014, GBM, Elsevier and BBA honoured Prof. Jaeinisch for his groundbreaking work in the field of epigenetic regulation of gene expression in mammalian development and disease.

Read a news article about the 2014 OWM here.

2014 Otto Warburg Medal

Otto Warburg Medal 2013

Prof. Randy Schekman awarded The Otto Warburg Medal 2013

In 2013, GBM, Elsevier and BBA honoured Prof. Schekman for his research on the regulation of protein transport processes in cells.

2013 Otto Warburg Medal

Application process

The Otto Warburg Medal is awarded to scientists who have made first-class, internationally recognized contributions in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology. The focus is on outstanding personalities who enjoy an excellent reputation extending far beyond their specialist field and beyond their particular country of origin.

The Otto Warburg Medal has been awarded regularly since 1963 by a panel of experts from the ranks of the GBM. Every GBM member is entitled to propose a nominee to the Executive Board of the GBM. The Executive Board of the society deliberates in a closed meeting on the candidates nominated for the prize.

The annual award ceremony is held in public, alternating between the Fall Conference of the GBM and the Mosbach Colloquium in spring.