Axel Ullrich

Axel Ullrich (* October 19, 1943 in Lauban ) is a German biochemist. He is director of the Department of Molecular Biology at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich.

Ullrich cloned the insulin receptor, the EGF receptor and other growth factor receptors. He developed the humanized anti -EGFR antibody trastuzumab (Herceptin ®) and anti -angiogenesis blocker sunitinib ( Sutent ® ), both anti-cancer drugs.


Ullrich graduated from the Ludwig- Wilhelm-Gymnasium in Rastatt and studied until 1971 Biochemistry at the University of Tübingen. After graduating, he moved to the University of Heidelberg, where he received his doctorate in 1975 on the "Translation of virus-specific ribonucleic acids in homologous and heterologous cell-free systems ."


In 1975, Ullrich as a postdoctoral fellow and research assistant at the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California. From 1979 he worked in the biotechnology company Genentech founded in 1976.

In 1988 he returned to Germany to become Director of the Department of Molecular Biology at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried.

In addition, Ullrich Honorary Professor of Second Military Medical University in Shanghai and the University of Tübingen. Furthermore, Ullrich addition to his work in Munich since 2004, director of the Singapore Onco Genome Laboratory, a collaboration between the Max - Planck Society and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A * STAR ) in Singapore.

Ullrich has in addition to his academic work, so far five biotech companies founded: SUGEN ( Schlessinger and Ullrich gene; founded in 1991 in California, now part of Pfizer), Axxima Pharmaceuticals ( founded in 1998 in Martinsried, now part of GPC Biotech), U3 Pharma (2001 also founded in Martinsried, acquired in 2008 by the Japanese company Daiichi Sankyo ), Kinaxo (2005 also founded in Martinsried, acquired by Evotec AG 2011) and Blackfield ( 2012 in Cologne founded ).


His work includes more than 571 scientific publications and more than 50,000 citations, making him one of the 10 most cited scientists in the last 25 years.


For his work and discoveries in the art of molecular signal transduction of cell and tumor biology Axel Ullrich received numerous awards:

He is also an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization ( EMBO), the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (since 2000) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Publications (selection)

  • Klaus longwall Hard, Axel Ullrich: Paul Ehrlich's magic bullet concept: 100 years of progress, in: Nature Reviews Cancer 8, 473-480 ( June 2008) (overview of cancer therapeutics, also describes a part of Ullrich's own work )