In memoriam: Hans Tuppy (1924 - 2024)

Hans Tuppy, biochemist, science politician, and one of the founding fathers of the Vienna BioCenter, passed away months before his 100th birthday.

The GMI received the sad news that Hans Tuppy, who provided crucial support for the development of the Vienna BioCenter, passed away last week, only months before his 100th birthday. 

Hans Tuppy was born in 1924 in Vienna. Tuppy studied biochemistry at the University of Vienna in the 1940s. After graduation in 1948, Tuppy joined the laboratory of Frederick Sanger at Cambridge University, where he worked on the amino acid sequence of bovine insulin, following a recommendation of Max Perutz. Tuppy’s next career step brought him to the Carlsberg Laboratory in Copenhagen as a postdoc, from where he returned to the University of Vienna in 1951, habilitating in 1956. In 1963, Tuppy became Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Vienna. 

Hans Tuppy guided the foundation of Boehringer Ingelheim’s cancer research institute in Vienna in the early 1960s, which created a blueprint for the founding of the IMP in the mid-1980s, at what is now the Vienna BioCenter. This project set the scene for the evolution of the Vienna BioCenter.  

In different capacities throughout his career, Tuppy remained highly involved in the development of the Vienna BioCenter. During his career, Hans Tuppy served as the President of the Austrian Science Fund (1974-1982), Rector of the University of Vienna (1983-1985), President of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (1985-1987) and the Austrian Federal Minister for Science (1987-1989).  

In his role as Federal Minister, Hans Tuppy supported the relocation of institutes of the University of Vienna related to molecular biology to St. Marx. After the relocation, the IMP and the University institutes – which later became the Max Perutz Labs – were referred to as “Vienna BioCenter”. Hans Tuppy is thus one of the founding fathers of the Vienna BioCenter, where the GMI was established in 2000.    

Today, the Vienna BioCenter boasts six research organizations, two universities and more than 35 biotech companies. As Emeritus Professor of the Max Perutz Labs, Hans Tuppy remained associated with the Vienna BioCenter and was a regular guest at campus events. 

Hans Tuppy received numerous honorary doctorates, the Austrian Decoration of Honour for Science and Art (1975), the Wilhelm Exner Medal (1978) and the Wittgenstein Prize of the Austrian Research Foundation (2002). The Austrian Academy of Sciences established the annual "Hans Tuppy Lecture" in his honour in 2016. Hans Tuppy was a member of numerous learned societies and national academies, including the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.