Heinrich Wieland and Boehringer Ingelheim

The German chemist Heinrich Otto Wieland was born on July 4 1877, in Pforzheim, a small town in Southern Germany.

He studied chemistry at the University of Munich, where he received his doctorate in 1901 and then held a chair for chemistry until his retirement in 1952. His work, published in more than 400 manuscripts, made an extremely contribution to structural organic chemistry and biochemistry. One of his major interests was the investigation on bile acids and related compounds, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1927. He also received other awards, such as the Goethe Medal for art and science as well as the Otto Hahn Prize of the Society of German Chemists (GDCh).

Prof. Heinrich Otto Wieland and his brother Prof. Hermann Wieland, a pharmacologist, were cousins of Helene Boehringer, the wife of Albert Boehringer, founder of Boehringer Ingelheim. In 1915, a close cooperation began between Boehringer Ingelheim and the Wieland brothers. During this time, Boehringer Ingelheim's "Scientific Department", dedicated to innovative research, was founded in 1917. This department, beginning with only four employees, was the starting point for Boehringer Ingelheim's pharmaceutical research and development (R & D) activities. Based on the research results of the Wieland brothers, the production of bile acid, the basis for manufacturing Perichol® and Cadechol® was initiated. These drugs were launched in the early 1920s as medication for treating chronic cardiovascular diseases.

Later in the 1920s, Heinrich Wieland discontinued his work with Boehringer Ingelheim. The Scientific Department, however, expanded and gained increasing importance. Because of this expansion in research activity, a building named after Heinrich Wieland was erected by Boehringer Ingelheim in 1938. The building still stands, bearing witness to the fruitful and successful cooperation between the scientist Heinrich Wieland and the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim.

Boehringer Ingelheim thus welcomed the opportunity to take over the sponsorship of the Heinrich Wieland Prize when the Margarine Institute gave up this role in 2000.

Since 2011, the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation has been charged with the responsibility for the Heinrich Wieland Prize.