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Prof. Dr.

Helmut Sies

Year of election: 2000
Section: Biochemistry and Biophysics
City: Düsseldorf
Country: Germany
CV Helmut Sies - Deutsch (Pdf)
CV Helmut Sies - English (pdf)


In 1969, Helmut Sies demonstrated the existence of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) as a normal attribute of aerobic life in eukaryonts, by organ spectrophotometry of Catalase Compound I in intact tissue.

In 1985, Helmut Sies founded the concept of „Oxidative Stress“. He investigated the molecular basis of oxidants and antioxidants, and the strategies of antioxidant defense. Singlet molecular oxygen, the electronically excited state of oxygen, was examined in relation to photooxidative stress. The group found that lycopene, a carotenoid, exhibits the highest rate constant for the reaction with singlet oxygen. The investigations led to systemic nutritional photoprotection in humans.

As to antioxidants, there were fundamental studies on glutathione and related enzymology, and on the essential trace element, selenium, as well as the mimic of glutathione peroxidase, ebselen. Vascular responses to flavanols, e.g. from cocoa, at the endothelium were examined from the molecular basis to the application to health effects in the human.

Cf. "Redox Pioneer: Professor Helmut Sies", in: Antioxidants & Redox Signaling. 2014/12/20, online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/ars.2014.6037


  • since 2008 Senior Scientist, Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine (IUF); Düsseldorf, Germany
  • 2008-2016 Professor of Biology and Biochemistry, College of Science, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • since 2008 Research Professor (Emeritus), Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany
  • since 2000 Adjunct Professor, University of Southern California, Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Los Angeles, USA
  • 1999 Distinguished Lectureship University of Texas, German-American Academic Council; Austin, TX United States
  • 1993 Visiting Professor, Heart Research Institute, Sydney, Australia
  • 1992 Miller Visiting Professor, University of California, Berkeley, USA
  • 1992 Professore Contratto, Universita degli Studi di Siena, Siena, Italy
  • 1990 Burroughs-Wellcome Visiting Professor of Pharmacology, University of Texas, USA
  • 1984-1985 Visiting Professor, Department of Biochemistry, University of California, USA
  • 1979-2008 Full Professor and Chairman, Department Physiological Chemistry, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany
  • 1978-1979 Apl. Professor, Dept. Physiological Chemistry, University of Munich, Germany
  • 1974-1978 Wissenschaftlicher Rat, Dept. Physiological Chemistry, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, Germany
  • 1972 Habilitation for Physiological Chemistry and Physical Biochemistry, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich
  • 1968-1974 Assistant, Dept. Physiological Chemistry, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich
  • 1967 M.D., Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich
  • 1966 Clinical Studies, LMU Munich and Sorbonne Paris, France
  • 1963 Preclinical Studies, LMU Munich and University of Tübingen, Germany
  • 1961 Studium generale, Leibniz Kolleg, University of Tübingen, Germany



  • 2009-2011 Vice-President, Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings
  • 2006 Chair, SFB 503 „Molekulare and zelluläre Mediatoren exogener Noxen“, DFG
  • 2005-2011 Member, Kuratorium Nobel Prize Winners Meeting at Lindau
  • 2004-2008 President, Oxygen Club of California (OCC)
  • 2003-2005 Vice-President, Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities
  • 2002-2005 President, North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences
  • 2001-2002 Member, Review Panel, Royal Society European Science Foundation (ESF)
  • 2000-2002 Vice-President, North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences
  • 1998-2002 Chairman, Kuratorium des Max-Planck-Instituts für Molekulare Physiologie
  • 1998-2000 President, International Society for Free Radical Research
  • 1998-2000 Member, FEBS Publications Committee, Federation of European Biochemical Societies
  • 1995-1998 Chairperson, Section of Toxicology, International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR)
  • 1991-2009 Member, UNESCO Global Network for Molecular and Cell Biology
  • 1991-1995 Advisory Board, GSF Forschungszentrum für Umwelt und Gesundheit, München
  • 1989-1990 President, Society for Free Radical Research (SFRR), European Region
  • since 1985 Advisory Board, Doktor Robert Pfleger-Stiftung, Bamberg
  • 1985-2010 Chairman, Krebsforschung International e.V.
  • 1984-2000 Chairperson, Gesellschaft für Biologische Chemie
  • 1984-1999 Member, Selection Committee, Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung

Honours and Memberships


  • 2019 Kopernikus-Medaille, University of Ferrara, Italy
  • 2014 Trevor Slater Award, Society for Free Radical Research International, Kyoto
  • 2013 Linus Pauling Institute Prize for Health Research
  • 2010 Honorary M.D. Degree, Universidad de la Republica, Montevideo, Uruguay
  • since 2001 NFCR Fellow, National Foundation for Cancer Research, Bethesda/ USA
  • since 2001 Fellow, Royal College of Physicians, London (F.R.C.P.)
  • since 2000 Member, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
  • 1999 Werner Heisenberg-Medal of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
  • since 1996 Corresponding Member, Academy of Medicine Buenos Aires
  • 1996 Honorary Ph.D. Degree, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • 1994 ISFE Prize, Internationale Stiftung zur Förderung der Ernährungsforschung und Ernährungsaufklärung
  • since 1991 Member of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences, Humanities and the Arts
  • since 1991 Corresponding Member, Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities
  • since 1991 Honorary Member, Japanese Society of Vitaminology
  • 1990 Claudius-Galenus Prize
  • since 1988 Honorary Member, American Society for Biochemistry and Moloecular Biology (ASBMB)
  • 1988 Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine
  • 1986 Silver Medal of the Karolinska Institute
  • 1985 Distinguished Foreign Scholar, Mid-America State Universities Association (MASUA)
  • 1978 FEBS Anniversary Prize, Federation of European Biochemical Societies




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