Otto Westphal (chemist)

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Otto Hermann Eduard Westphal (born February 1, 1913 in Berlin ; † September 14, 2004 in Montreux ) was a German chemist and immunologist .


The son of the physicist Wilhelm Westphal and his wife Olga, née Meyer-Delius, studied chemistry at the University of Freiburg from 1931 to 1932 after attending school in Salem , then at the Technical University and University of Berlin. After power was handed over to the National Socialists , Westphal became a member of the NSDAP and the SS in 1933 . At the University of Heidelberg , he was in 1937 when Karl Freudenberg Dr. rer. nat. PhD . He then worked as a research assistant at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Medical Research with Richard Kuhn in Heidelberg .

In 1941 he completed his habilitation at the University of Heidelberg with his work on hydrazine derivatives. From 1942 he was a lecturer at the Chemical Institute of the University of Göttingen and head of the department for biochemistry, where he worked on the project of the emergency community of German science "Blood Group". In 1946 he received the offer to set up an institute for the Swiss Wander AG , known as the manufacturer of Ovaltine , in Säckingen . In 1952 he became an associate professor at the University of Freiburg and, after the premises and equipment in Säckingen were no longer sufficient, the Dr. Wander Institute moved to Freiburg in 1956, where a new building was built.

In 1958 Westphal turned down the chair for biochemistry at the University of Tübingen as the successor to Adolf Butenandt . In 1962 the Dr. Wander Institute in Freiburg was taken over by the Max Planck Society and Otto Westphal became the founding director of the newly created Max Planck Institute for Immunobiology .

Westphal was a founding member of the German Society for Immunology in 1967 and its president from 1967 to 1976.


During his time in Freiburg, Westphal's main interest was the endotoxic properties of lipopolysaccharides . In addition, the chemistry and biology of bacterial capsular polysaccharides (K antigens) and somatic antigens of gram-negative bacteria, especially salmonella and coli bacteria, as well as tumor biology are among the areas in which Westphal contributed pioneering research results.

In addition to his research, Westphal took on numerous functions in scientific specialist societies, including a. he was a Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society .


Otto Westphal had been married to Olga Gayling von Altheim since 1941, with whose death in 1987 the noble family of the same name became extinct. The couple had two children named Nikolaus (* 1942 in Göttingen) and Katharina (* 1943), who have called themselves von Gayling-Westphal since then and are recognized under nobility law. Nikolaus von Gayling-Westphal has been a member of the Freiburg City Council since 2009, was a candidate for the FDP in 2011 and lives in Ebnet Castle in Freiburg im Breisgau .


Publications (selection)

  • with Theodor Wieland and Heinrich Huebschmann: life regulator. Of hormones, vitamins, ferments and other active ingredients. Societäts-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1941 (= Frankfurt books. Research and life. Volume 1).


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Ernst Klee: Das Personenlexikon zum Third Reich , Frankfurt am Main 2007, p. 672.
  2. Immunology in Germany 2005 published by DGfI 2005 (accessed March 28, 2012)  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 2.9 MB).@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  3. ^ Doreen Fiedler: Von Gayling as a candidate for the state parliament , Badische Zeitung, July 25, 2010, accessed on July 25, 2010.
  4. ^ List of members . In: Yearbook of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences 2004, p. 317.