Hans Günter Gassen (1938 – 2024)

Hans Günter Gassen (1938 – 2024)

Author: ChemistryViews (Photo: Hans Günter Gassen, wikimedia commons, CC BY 3.0)

Hans Günter Gassen, Professor Emeritus, Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, passed away on May 26, 2024.

He was one of the pioneers of genetic engineering in Germany. He was celebrated as a remarkable individual, an influential mentor, a critical teacher, a creative leader, and an inspiring friend. His visionary leadership, tireless dedication, and extensive knowledge made him a leading scientist and a pioneer in biotechnology, as described in obituaries by the companies BRAIN Biotech AG, R-Biopharm AG, and humatrix AG [1].

Hans Günter Gassen’s research focused primarily on the mechanisms of gene-directed protein synthesis, the biotechnological production of pharmaceuticals, and, since 2000, the mechanisms of substance transport across the blood-brain barrier.


Hans Günter Gassen, born in Nieder-Weisel, Germany, in 1938, studied chemistry at the University of Marburg, Germany, and completed his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1966 under the supervision of Herbert Witzel. After a postdoctoral stay in the laboratory of Herbert Witzel in Marburg, he spent 1967–1969 at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TN, USA, with Waldo E. Cohn, funded by the Max Kade Foundation. From 1969 to 1971, Hans Günter Gassen worked as a scientific assistant with Heinrich Matthaei at the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine in Göttingen, Germany, and starting in 1972, as Head of a group at the Institute of Biochemistry at the University of Münster, Germany. In 1972, he completed his habilitation in biochemistry, received the Venia Legendi for this subject, and was appointed Extraordinary Professor. In 1973, he was appointed Full Professor of Biochemistry at the Technical University of Darmstadt. From then on, Gassen focused on developing the newly founded department into an internationally recognized center for biochemistry and biotechnology with a staff of around 130. He had been Emeritus Professor since April 2004.

Hans Günter Gassen held several patents, for example, for methods for the preparation of 1,2,3,5-tetraacyl-β-D-ribofuranoses. From 1986 to 1992, he led a joint research association for applied genetic engineering, which he founded in conjunction with the companies Grünenthal, Merck, and Röhm. He also served as Dean of the chemistry department at the Technical University of Darmstadt from 1986 to 1987 and again from 1996 to 1998, as Managing Director of the Institute of Biochemistry from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1998 to 2001, and as Chairman of the Division of Biochemistry of the German Chemical Society (GDCh) from 1991 to 1998. He also served as an expert witness in patent disputes.

Hans Günter Gassen founded several companies, including B.R.A.I.N. GmbH in 1993, GENIUS GmbH in 1998, N-Zyme BioTec GmbH in 1999, ESPLORA GmbH in 2000, and Zedira GmbH in 2007. Hans Günter Gassen was a co-founder and, until 2008, editor of Biotechnology Journal.

Selected Publications



[1] Traueranzeige Hans Günter Gassen, Darmstädter Echo June 22, 2024. (accessed June 26, 2024)



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