In publica commoda

In memory of Professor Ulf Diederichsen

No. 36 - 17.11.2021

The University of Göttingen is saddened by the passing of the chemist and former Vice-President Professor Ulf Diederichsen, who died on 11 November 2021. We are deeply saddened by his sudden death.


Ulf Diederichsen was a professor at the Institute of Organic Chemistry at Göttingen University from 2001, an institute that he also led from 2008 to 2014. From 2005 to 2007, he was Dean of the Faculty of Chemistry.


He studied chemistry at the University of Freiburg and moved to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich for his doctorate. This was followed by a post-doctoral research position at the University of Pittsburgh in the USA. He worked towards his habilitation qualification on artificial nucleic acid structures at the Technical University of Munich. In 1999, he accepted an appointment as the Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Würzburg, and in 2000-2001 he was Goering Visiting Professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (USA). In April 2001, he accepted an appointment at the University of Göttingen.


His work was awarded the Hellmut Bredereck Foundation Prize and the Karl Winnacker Foundation Scholarship in 1999. His research interests were biomolecules and their interactions. Using rational design, he developed synthetically modified analogues of peptides and small proteins as well as nucleic acids, which allowed him not only to explain biologically relevant processes, but also to provide biomolecules that became just as important for diagnostics in biomedicine as they were for modern imaging. His expertise in synthetic approaches distinguished him as an outstanding scientist. His interdisciplinary research work formed an ideal bridge between synthetic organic chemistry and the molecular analysis of biologically and medically relevant processes.


Ulf Diederichsen was a long-standing spokesperson for the Konferenz der Fachbereiche Chemie (KFC), a member of the advisory board of the Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftlichen Fakultätentag (MNFT) and a review board member and chair in the German Research Foundation (DFG) Review Board 305 "Biological Chemistry and Food Chemistry" from 2008 to 2016. He was a member of the board of the Institute for Biostructural Imaging of Neurodegeneration (BIN) and Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Peptide Science. Diederichsen was vice-chair of the Collaborative Research Centre 803 "Functionality controlled by organisation in and between membranes" for its entire duration, from 2009 to 2021.


Ulf Diederichsen was Vice-President for Research at Göttingen University for two terms of office from 2015 to 2021. For this, he put his own academic work to one side, without ever letting it rest completely, and took on responsibility for the continuing development of the University’s research profile as part of its strategy development process. It was his calm, balanced and empathetic manner that enabled him to moderate the not always straightforward process of profile building in an understanding, collegial and confident manner and to make significant progress in developing Göttingen's research landscape. In doing so, he was able to rely on the high level of respect and acceptance by colleagues who appreciated his fairness, openness, and, above all, his high level of expertise.


In October 2020, Ulf Diederichsen became President of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities, of which he had been a full member since 2012.


Ulf Diederichsen felt a close bond with the University of Göttingen and always championed the interests of the Georgia Augusta in a fair and altruistic manner. His passing creates a void – not just at the University and the Göttingen Campus – that will be difficult to fill. We are deeply indebted to him. He will be greatly missed.