Top research in Bavaria: the state’s Nobel Prize Laureates

Bavarian research doesn’t just stand out thanks to the numerous universities and universities of applied sciences, but also the non-academic research landscape in the state as well as the no less than 33 Bavarian Nobel Prize Laureates so far who enrich Bavaria with international recognition in research.

Bavaria’s Nobel Prize Laureates


Bavaria has produced 33 Nobel Prize Laureates since 1901. The men from science, literature and politics were either born in Bavaria or at least worked in the state for some time. It all began with none other than Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of x-rays. Including Röntgen, eleven Bavarian researchers in total have been awarded with the Nobel Prize in Physics. Wilhelm Wien, for example, researched the laws of thermal radiation and received the renowned prize for this in 1911. Nobel Prize Laureate Werner Heisenberg, born in Würzburg, was one of the most important physicists in the 20th century with his explanation of quantum mechanics.


Bavarian chemists are represented even more strongly among the prize winners than physicists. 12 Nobel Prizes in total have been awarded to them. Emil Hermann Fischer received the first Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1902 with his work on the structure of purines and carbohydrates. Eduard Buchner was awarded with a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research and conclusive explanation of the structure of steroids, which is the basis of many types of heart medication. The last Nobel Prize for now went to Gerhard Ertl in 2007. He was already working as a professor at the Institute for Physical Chemistry at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and established the field of surface chemistry in Germany. Bavarian researchers have managed to win six Nobel Prizes in medicine and physiology with inventions like the organiser effect with embryonic development and research into the sensory perception of honey bees and the way that these animals communicate with each other.


However, it’s not just research that ranks highly, there are Nobel Prize Laureates in Literature and Peace among the 33 Bavarian Nobel Prize Laureates. The first of two Nobel Prizes in Peace was awarded to Ludwig Quidde in 1927. As Chair of the Pacific umbrella organisation, the “Deutsches Friedenskartell”, he was already considered to be a key figure on the peace movement six years before. Thomas Mann and Paul Heyse are both winners of the two Nobel Prizes in Literature in total. Paul Heyse was the first German author to be awarded for his literary works in 1910. And Thomas Mann was also considered to be one of the most important novelists of the 20th century with his works and received the Nobel Prize for his novel Buddenbrooks in 1929.

Bavaria’s respected research institutes


It’s not just individuals that make Bavaria into an internationally respected state for research, as Bavaria is also home to several renowned research institutions and therefore makes a major contribution to basic research in natural sciences, life sciences, humanities and social sciences. The Max Planck Institute is an important part of the Bavarian research landscape with 14 of its more than 80 institutes worldwide. The Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, for example, employs Bavaria’s youngest Nobel Prize Laureate Professor Theodor W. Hänsch as a Director at the Institute – he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2005. Other major research centres in Bavaria include institutions like the Helmholtz Association, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft or the Leibniz Association, whose research centre also includes the Deutsches Museum in Munich. With its two locations in Bayreuth and Fürth, the Neue Materialien Nordbayern centre of excellence is also a renowned research institute that develops innovative process technologies and methods, for example making shoes out of spider silk fibres. The promotion of these kinds of projects by Bavaria’s numerous research institutes ensures that the state will hopefully be the Swedish King’s guest often in future too.

A summary of Bavaria’s Nobel Prize Laureate



  • Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (1901)
  • Wilhelm Wien (1911)
  • Max von Laue (1914)
  • Johannes Stark (1919)
  • Werner Heisenberg (1932)
  • Rudolf Mößbauer (1961)
  • Arno Allen Penzias (1978)
  • Klaus von Klitzing (1985)
  • Gerd Binning (1986)
  • Jack Steinberger (1988)
  • Theodor W. Hänsch (2005)



  • Emil Hermann Fischer (1902)
  • Adolf von Baeyer (1905)
  • Eduard Buchner (1907)
  • Richard Willstätter (1915)
  • Heinrich Wieland (1927)
  • Hans Fischer (1930)
  • Adolf Butenandt (1939)
  • Ernst Otto Foscher (1973)
  • Johann Deisenhofer (1988)
  • Hartmut Michel (1988)
  • Gerhard Ertl (2007)



  • Paul Heyse (1910)



  • Hans Spemann (1935)
  • Feodor Lynen (1964)
  • Karl von Frisch (1973)
  • Konrad Lorenz (1973)
  • Georges Köhler (1984)
  • Erwin Neher (1991)


Nobel Peace Prize:

  • Ludwig Quidde (1929)
  • Henry Kissinger (1973)