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The Max Rubner Institute bids farewell to its President

Press releases

Gerhard Rechkemmer retires

In his capacity as the first President of the Max Rubner Institute, Professor Gerhard Rechkemmer had the honour of deciding what the institute should be called. He chose the name Max Rubner, in memory of the founder of modern nutritional science. Yesterday , Professor Rechkemmer retired. Two goals were particularly close to his heart: he wanted to enhance the scientific quality of the institute, which amalgamated several Federal Research Institutes, and connect it more closely with the science community at home and abroad. A very good evaluation by the German Council of Science and Humanities and numerous collaborations with universities and other research institutions as well as the successful research projects they have spawned clearly indicate that Professor Rechkemmer achieved his goals.

The Max Rubner Institute (MRI) was founded in 2008, marking the end of planning and the start of implementing the large-scale restructuring of federal science under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). This saw several, previously independent, Federal Research Institutes amalgamating under the roof of the “new” institute. Thanks to the committed engagement of Professor Rechkemmer, the restructuring, which involved considerable changes in personnel, has largely been implemented. Times of change are, however, also times of uncertainty and new structures are not always good news for everyone. Professor Rechkemmer had no easy task on his hands, but he was not new to the institute. Even before being appointed President, from 1992 to 2002, he had been Head of the Institute for Nutritional Physiology at MRI’s predecessor institute, the Federal Research Institute for Nutrition and Food. Such immediate knowledge of the conditions at the institute was certainly an important precondition for the transition from old to new.

Professor Rechkemmer played a seminal role in establishing new, large-scale research focus areas at MRI, such as nanotechnology, metabolomics, metagenomics and antibiotic resistance. A relatively new item on MRI’s agenda is the topic of child nutrition. Here, too, the path has already been laid out: this socially-important research area is set to become a new institute, located at the Max Rubner Institute. Professor Rechkemmer has also prepared the way for a new National Nutrition and Health Study to be conducted in collaboration with the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). In addition to his activities in specialist scientific societies, for four years, he was President of the Senate of the Federal Research Institutes under the auspices of the BMEL and one of the founders and founding board members of the German Agricultural Research Alliance (DAFA).

An eminent scientist himself, Rechkemmer actively addressed any weak spots he found: he was, for instance, particularly keen to improve the institute’s publication performance. In the tradition of the Federal Research Institutes, what is seen today as an indispensable element of quality assurance still had potential for development. Public outreach was not a traditional focus of the Federal Research Institutes either. Professor Rechkemmer managed to introduce significant improvements in both fields. An institute with a new name that nobody knew became an institute with a strong press profile. It was particularly important to Professor Rechkemmer to pull the carpet from under the feet of self-titled “experts” by disseminating robust information. He himself joined the advisory bodies of many scientific organisations, thus lending the Max Rubner Institute a voice in the world of science. In all his undertakings, he steadfastly focussed on the consumer – the intended beneficiary of all MRI’s work – and this has been confirmed by independent observers, as well. In the words of the Science Council, which evaluated the Max Rubner Institute in 2013, ‘The Max Rubner Institute, founded in 2008, has developed into a competitive consultancy, service and research institution. With its advisory role on food safety and quality as well as on nutrition, MRI helps to maintain the health and well-being of the German population.”

Professor Dr Dr Gerhard Rechkemmer – Personal Details


Professor Gerhard Rechkemmer, born in Heilbronn in 1951, is a nutritional scientist who took up office as the President of what was then the Federal Research Institute for Nutrition and Food and is now the Max Rubner Institute (Federal Research Institute for Nutrition and Food, MRI) with headquarters in Karlsruhe on 2 April 2007.

Having completed his undergraduate studies in nutritional science and taken a doctorate at the University of Hohenheim, Gerhard Rechkemmer started working at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hanover where he completed a Habilitation in 1989, acquiring the right to teach (Venia legendi) physiology at university level. After spending two years working on research in the United States, he transferred to the Lower Saxony Institute for Peptide Research (IPF) where he was head of the Functional Analysis Department from 1992 to 1994. He became the Director and a Professor at the Federal Research Institute for Nutrition (BFE) in 1995 and headed the Institute for Nutritional Physiology until 2002. On 1 January 2003, Gerhard Rechkemmer was appointed to an endowed chair in the Biofunctionality of Food at the Centre of Life and Food Sciences Weihenstephan, TU Munich, where he remained until he relocated to MRI.
Rechkemmer holds an “extraordinary” professorship in physiology at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover and an honorary professorship at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

Professor Rechkemmer belongs to various scientific societies and is a member of the Board of the German Society for Nutrition. He is also a member of the German Research Foundation’s (DFG) Permanent Senate Commission on Food Safety (SKLM). Since 2011, he had been a member of the Board of Directors, a steering committee within the International Life Sciences Institute Europe (ILSI Europe), and since 2013, a member of the Board of Trustees von ILSI Global, the body that advises the ILSI on its scientific course. He is, furthermore, the speaker of the extended board of the Rhein-Neckar-Forum Kulinaristik e.V.
From 2004 to 2014, he was Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of Nutrition, the leading European scientific journal in nutritional science.

Professor Rechkemmer was the German delegate to the Council of Europe’s Commission for Nutrition, Food Safety and Consumer Health and in the Working Group on functional foods.