Johann Ludwig Wilhelm Thudichum

The Thudichum Award


Inspired by Johann Thudichum’s lifetime of pioneering research

The physician Johann Ludwig Wilhelm Thudichum (1829–1901) researched a wide spectrum of medical and nonmedical topics. One of his most significant achievements was his pioneering work in biochemistry.  He recognized the physiological importance of phospholipids. He was one of the founders of the concept of “brain chemistry” and he isolated and characterized brain lipids such as lecithin and cephalins – phospholipids.

But his findings and subsequent publication titled “A Treatise on the Chemical Constitution of the Brain” were not well received by the scientific community. Sadly, he did not witness the vindication of his groundbreaking works. After his death, he was increasingly recognized as an innovative, versatile genius who made a tremendous contribution to understanding how many physiological processes function and their key components, including phospholipids.


The Thudichum Award: twofold and biannual

Inspired by Johann Thudichum’s intriguing biography, the Phospholipid Research Center created a twofold award. Firstly, the Thudichum Young Scientist Award is intended to encourage promising young scientists to proceed with their phospholipid research. Secondly, the Thudichum Life Award, which is reserved for scientists who have contributed lifelong, outstanding research in the field of phospholipid research. The Thudichum Award has been presented since 2015.


An award as connecting as phospholipids

The Thudichum Award recognizes the value of innovative, original research on phospholipid excipients. Since phospholipids are natural substances that have distinct physiological roles, the bridge between the physiological role of phospholipids and their use as technical excipients and bioactive compounds is closely related to the physicochemical and biophysical properties of phospholipids.

Clearly, most researchers address only one aspect of this research field, but they should undertake their research while keeping in mind the ramifications of this correlation: phospholipids are versatile, biocompatible and non-toxic compounds. The research honored with the award should eventually result in or make a contribution to the creation of something which has a pharmaceutical use, i.e. improved medications and diagnostic methods for patients etc.


“Our Award winners represent the same mentality and originality as Prof. Thudichum,”

explains PD Dr. Peter van Hoogevest, former Managing Director of the Phospholipid Research Center.

“They are inspired by a burning desire to explore the properties of phospholipids and their many application possibilities. I am deeply impressed by the high quality of the research conducted by the Thudichum Award winners as well as their persistence and originality. These individuals are perfectly suited to act as a beacon for current and future generations of students and scientists, and they enthusiastically motivate others to do the same! The Thudichum Award should motivate other researchers to bring the field of pharmaceutical phospholipid research at least one step further into the future.”

The Thudichum Award ceremonies take place at the International Symposia on Phospholipids in Pharmaceutical Research, which are organized biannually in Heidelberg, Germany. The award ceremony is open to the public and the award winners have the opportunity to give a short speech on their achievements after receiving their awards.

Thudichum Young Scientist Award

The Thudichum Young Scientist Award, with a cash prize of €5,000, is presented to young scientists who have performed excellent research on phospholipids and have published their findings in renowned scientific journals.

The winners of the Thudichum Young Scientist Award are selected by the Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) during an independent, non-public and objective selection process. The SAC judges the candidate’s proposal on its novelty/originality; scientific level, quality and clarity; and to what extent the researcher is able to explain in a clear manner what their intentions are and what their results mean.

Before each symposium, any researcher who is 35 years of age or younger can apply for this award by submitting relevant scientific publications. Normally there is only one winner, but sometimes the award is given to two winners who are equally qualified.

Application process for the Thudichum Young Scientist Award


Previous recipients of the Thudichum Young Scientist Award

2015: Dr. Margaret Nancy Holme

2017: Dr. Tom van Rooij

2019: Dr. Philipp Uhl and Dr. Dominik Witzigmann

2022: Dr. Johannes Morstein

Thudichum Life Award

The Thudichum Life Award is intended to honor scientists who have made major contributions to phospholipids research which have resulted in the scientific community gaining significant knowledge on how to utilize phospholipids in conjunction with their properties.

The winner of the Thudichum Life Award is selected by the Scientific Advisory Council and the Board of the PRC during an independent, non-public and objective selection process. The winner will be informed well in advance and is invited as a guest of the Phospholipid Research Center to give a presentation at the symposium as part of the award ceremony.

The Thudichum Life Award in the form of a certificate and cash sum of €10,000 is presented by Dr. Herbert Rebmann, the Honorary President of the Phospholipid Research Center.


Previous recipients of the Thudichum Life Award

2017: Prof. Dr. Daan Crommelin

2019: Prof. Dr. Yechezkel (Chezy) Barenholz

2022: Prof. Dr. Pieter Cullis