The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Awards are sometimes called the "German Nobel Prizes", for no other science award in the Federal Republic is endowed with comparable amounts of money. Laureates may receive up to 2.5 million euro. The German Research Foundation (DFG) awards the prizes every year to ten pre-eminent scientists.
2017: Prof. Dr. Jörg Vogel, Infection Biology
The researcher studies small regulatory RNA molecules of bacterial pathogens. He and his team are determined to get to the bottom of how these molecules work and act. His work could show new ways to fight pathogens. Vogel is one of the world's leading researchers in the field of RNA biology. He detected the importance of RNA biochemistry very early on. Moreover, he has done pioneering work in the field of RNA analysis with the application and development of high-throughput sequencing methods.
2016: Prof. Dr. Dag Nikolaus Hasse, History of Philosophy
The research focus of Dag Nikolaus Hasse is on Arabic history of philosophy and science and on the Arabic influence in Europe from a historical point of view plus the European history of philosophy and science of the 12th to 16th century as well as Medieval Latin literature. The Leibniz Prize now enables Hasse to press ahead with his research activities. Since 2013, Hasse has been head of the large-scale project "Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus" of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. One of the goals is to gain new insight into the common bases of Islamic and European culture in the Middle Ages.
2014: Prof. Dr. Laurens Molenkamp, Physics
Physicist Laurens Molenkamp is considered one of the fathers of semiconductor spintronics. This technology is expected to help make information processing and computer technology even more efficient. Molenkamp was the first scientist in the world who managed to experimentally realise topological insulators, a novel class of materials that has been the object of intensive research ever since and is expected to be the key to further progress in the field of spintronics: Topological insulators should lead the way towards even smaller and more powerful microchips.
2009: Prof. Dr. Holger Braunschweig, Chemistry
The expert on Anorganic Chemistry works in the fields of Metallic and Elemental Chemistry. He focuses on investigating transition metal complexes with boron-centered ligands. His studies, in which he literally "tamed" the element of boron by compounding it with metals, are considered groundbreaking achievements. In this way, his team has created new molecules and given them new properties. It is expected that these new molecules will significantly influence catalysis and the Materials Sciences.
2006: Prof. Dr. Thomas Mussweiler, Psychology
The social psychologist addresses the question as to the role played by comparison processes in judgments and decisions. His studies are of high importance for psychological decision research, while also possessing economic relevance. Mussweiler worked at the University of Würzburg from 1995 to 2004, then moving on to become Professor of Social Psychology and Differential Psychology at the University of Cologne. He received the Leibniz Award essentially for his studies at Würzburg.
2001: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Konrad, Musicology
Ulrich Konrad has held the Chair of Musicology at the University of Würzburg since 1998. According to the DFG, his studies are informed by the wide range of his interests: "As a Mozart scholar, who achieved a fresh reconstruction of Mozart's approach to his work on the basis of more than 300 musical sketches, he has made a name for himself all over the world. Additionally, he is a dedicated student of composers and compositions of the 19th century." In the field of Recent Music History, his subjects of interest include Richard Strauß, Franz Schmidt, and Alban Berg.
1999: Prof. Dr. Martin Lohse, Pharmacology
Lohse, who has held the Chair of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Würzburg since 1993, studies receptors for hormones and vectors of the nervous system. These receptors recognize and bind messenger substances and trigger reactions in the cell. With their aid, for instance, adrenaline accelerates the heartbeat, or insulin increases sugar absorption. Receptors also are a preferred point of application for medicinal drugs.
1990: Prof. Dr. Bert Hölldobler, Zoology
The expert on the sociobiology of insects has published groundbreaking studies, particularly on the social behavior and the ethoecology of ants. He investigates the social life of these animals both in natural ecosystems and in laboratory experiments. In 1969, Hölldobler went to Harvard University, where he and his colleague Edward O. Wilson wrote the textbook "The Ants," which earned them the Pulitzer Prize in 1991. In 1989, he returned to the University of Würzburg and held the Chair of Zoology II until 2004.
1987: Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Zenner, Ear, Nose, and Throat Medicine
Zenner accepted an appointment to the Chair of ENT Medicine at the University of Tübingen.
1986: Prof. Dr. Otto Ludwig Lange (†), Botany/Ecology
Professor emeritus today, Lange held the Chair of Botany II of the University of Würzburg from 1963 until his retirement in 1992. He is one of the founding fathers of Phytophysiological Ecology. His main field of study is the ecophysiology of lichens, cyanobacteria, algae, and mosses.
1986: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Heber (†), Botany/Physiology
Heber was Professor of Botany at the University of Würzburg from 1971 up to his retirement in 1996. His major fields of investigation included the biochemistry of stress in plants (freezing resistance, water balance, air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide or ozone).