Leopoldina Medal of Merit for Bärbel Friedrich

December 13, 2016       

Today, microbiologist Prof. Bärbel Friedrich and former member of UniCat has been awarded the Medal of Merit of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

Prof. Dr. Bärbel Friedrich after the award's ceremony. Photo: Markus Scholz for Leopoldina.

As the Leopoldina is reporting, Prof. Dr. Bärbel Friedrich is honored for her exemplary achievements on behalf of the academy, her commitment to science policy and her contribution to research ethics. The award has been conferred at the traditional Leopoldina Christmas Lecture in Halle (Saale).

Bärbel Friedrich is receiving the Leopoldina’s Medal of Merit in recognition of her exemplary nature of her work on behalf of the Academy, particularly in the field of science-based advice for policymakers and society. Friedrich was vice-president of the Leopoldina from 2005 to 2015. She headed or was a member of various Academy working groups including those on bioenergy, green gene technology, individualised medicine, synthetic biology, the handling of security-relevant research and genome surgery. Prof. Friedrich always also took care to address the ethical issues involved in modern-day biology.

“Bärbel Friedrich particularly excelled in her contribution to the science-based policy advice provided by the Leopoldina. Without her exceptional dedication, her clear view of things and her reliability, Leopoldina’s advice for policymakers and society would not be as advanced as it is today,” said Prof. Jörg Hacker.

Born in 1945 in Göttingen, Bärbel Friedrich studied biology at Universität Göttingen and obtained her doctorate in microbiology in 1973. She went on to work as a post-doctoral research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge (USA) before earning her post-doctoral qualification in Göttingen. Between 1985 and 1994 Friedrich researched and taught as a professor at the Freie Universität Berlin before taking up a professorship at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She was one of the founders of the Cluster of Excellence UniCat in 2007 and belonged to UniCat until 2012.

Prof. Dr. Bärbel Friedrich. Photo: David Ausserhofer for Leopoldina.

Bärbel Friedrich served as a member of the German Council of Science and Humanities and as vice-president of the German Research Foundation (DFG) between 1997 and 2003. From 2003 to 2005, she participated in the German Bundestag’s Study Commission on Law and Ethics of Modern Medicine. She has been scientific director at the Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg in Greifswald since 2008 and a member of the Vienna University Council since 2014.

Friedrich’s research areas include hydrogen-dependent energy metabolism and its regulation in bacteria, with a particular focus on the hydrogenase enzyme system. She also worked on functional genome analysis. Friedrich is one of the world’s leading microbiologists and has received numerous awards and accolades. In 2013 she received the Arthur Burkhardt Prize and the German Federal Cross of Merit. Bärbel Friedrich is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and a corresponding member of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Göttingen Academy of Sciences. Friedrich has been a member of the Leopoldina in the Microbiology and Immunology Section since 1994.

The Medal of Merit is awarded by the Presidium of the Leopoldina for exceptional service to the benefit of the Academy. Every medal is unique -- one side always bears the portrait and the name of the award winner and the other side is inscribed with the reason for the award.

More information
Caroline Wichmann
Head of Press and Public Relations
Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften Leopoldina
Tel.: +49 (0)345 472 39 – 800