75th Birthday: Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff

75th Birthday: Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff

Author: ChemistryViews (Photo: Mario Müller)

Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff, chemist and virologist, Founder and Member of the Supervisory Board of AiCuris GmbH & Co. KG, Wuppertal, Germany, celebrates her 75th birthday on January 13, 2024.

Rübsamen-Schaeff has performed important research on infectious diseases and the development of antiviral drugs and antibiotics. She is particularly interested in researching and developing antiviral medications (e.g., against herpes viruses, cytomegalovirus, HIV, and hepatitis B) as well as new antibiotics against multi-resistant pathogens. She has also investigated oncogenic viruses, i.e., viruses that can cause cancer. She was the first to isolate HIV strains from patients in Germany and worked on the classification of HIV variants, HIV tests, and HIV drug development. The biopharmaceutical company AiCuris, which she founded, aims to develop new drugs against viruses and multi-resistant bacteria and has brought a drug against cytomegalovirus (Prevymis®) to market in 2017/2018.


Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff studied chemistry at the University of Münster, Germany, where she received her Ph.D. in 1973. She performed postdoctoral research at the University of Münster, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA, and the University of Gießen, Germany. In 1982, she became the Head of the Department for Immune Therapy at the Chemotherapeutic Research Institute Georg-Speyer-Haus, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. She completed her habilitation in 1983 and served as a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA, in 1983 and 1985.

From 1987 to 1993, Rübsamen-Schaeff served as Scientific and Managing Director at the Chemotherapeutic Research Institute Georg-Speyer-Haus, and in 1988, she became Professor of Biochemistry and Virology at the University of Frankfurt am Main. From 1994 to 2001, she was the Head of Antiviral Research at Bayer AG, Leverkusen, Germany, and from 2001 to 2006, she served as Senior Vice-President for Anti-Infective Research at Bayer AG. In 2006, she founded AiCuris, where she served as CEO until 2015, when she became Chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Board of the company. Since 2021, she has served as a Member of the Supervisory Board of AiCuris.

In addition to other honors, Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff has received the Cross of Merit 1st Class from the Federal Republic of Germany in 1995, the Mestemacher Prize in 2004, the 2015 Distinguished Woman in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Award from the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), the 2018 German Future Prize (the German Federal President’s Prize for Technology and Innovation), and the Loeffler Frosch Medal from the German Society for Virology (GfV) in 2020. She is a Member of the GfV, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, and the German National Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech), as well as an Honorary Member of the German Chemical Society (GDCh).

Selected Publications


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