Hartmut Michel

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Hartmut Michel
Michel, Hartmut (1948).jpg
Hartmut Michel
Born (1948-07-18) 18 July 1948 (age 73)
Nationality German
Fields Biochemistry
Institutions Max Planck Institute for Biophysics
Alma mater University of Tübingen
Known for Crystallisation of membrane proteins
Notable awards
Spouse Elena Olkhova

Hartmut Michel (born 18 July 1948) is a German biochemist, who received the 1988 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.[2][3][4][5]

Education and early life

He was born on 18 July 1948 in Ludwigsburg. After compulsory military service, he studied biochemistry at the University of Tübingen, working for his final year at Dieter Oesterhelt’s laboratory on ATPase activity of halobacteria.

Career and research

Hartmut later[when?] worked on the crystallisation of membrane proteins - essential for their structure elucidation by X-ray crystallography. He received the Nobel Prize jointly with Johann Deisenhofer and Robert Huber in 1988. Together with Michel and Huber, Deisenhofer determined the three-dimensional structure of a protein complex found in certain photosynthetic bacteria. This membrane protein complex, called a photosynthetic reaction center, was known to play a crucial role in initiating a simple type of photosynthesis. Between 1982 and 1985, the three scientists used X-ray crystallography to determine the exact arrangement of the more than 10,000 atoms that make up the protein complex. Their research increased the general understanding of the mechanisms of photosynthesis, revealed similarities between the photosynthetic processes of plants and bacteria and established a methodology for crystallising membrane proteins.[6]

Since 1987 he is director of the Molecular Membrane Biology department at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysics in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and professor of biochemistry at the Goethe University Frankfurt.

Awards and honours

In 1986, he received the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, which is the highest honour awarded in German research. In 1988, he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 2005.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Professor Hartmut Michel ForMemRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2015-10-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Autobiographical information on Hartmut at www.nobel.org
  3. Structural genomics on selected families of secondary active transporters, project page at the Frankfurt University
  4. Iwata, S.; Ostermeier, C.; Ludwig, B.; Michel, H. (1995). "Structure at 2.8 Å resolution of cytochrome c oxidase from Paracoccus denitrificans". Nature. 376 (6542): 660. doi:10.1038/376660a0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Deisenhofer, J.; Epp, O.; Miki, K.; Huber, R.; Michel, H. (1984). "X-ray structure analysis of a membrane protein complex". Journal of Molecular Biology. 180 (2): 385. doi:10.1016/S0022-2836(84)80011-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Deisenhofer, J.; Epp, O.; Miki, K.; Huber, R.; Michel, H. (1985). "Structure of the protein subunits in the photosynthetic reaction centre of Rhodopseudomonas viridis at 3Å resolution". Nature. 318 (6047): 618. doi:10.1038/318618a0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>