Karl-Heinz Altmann

Karl-Heinz Altmann has been a professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences of the ETH Zürich since July 1st, 2003.

Professor Altmann studied chemistry at the Johannes-Gutenberg University in Mainz, from where he graduated with a diploma in 1983. His subsequent Ph. D. work in the area of peptide chemistry was performed at the University of Basel from 1984-1986.

Karl-Heinz Altman then spent two and a half years as a post-doctoral associate at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY,which was followed by a one year stay as a master assistant at the University of Lausanne. In Sept. 1990 Karl-Heinz Altmann joined Ciba-Geigy’s Central Research Laboratories in Basel, where he worked on the design and synthesis of modified nucleosides as potential building blocks for antisense therapeutics until 1996.

In 1997 he moved to Oncology Research within Novartis Pharma AG, which had been formed through the merger between Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy. After four years as a project leader in Oncology Research Karl-Heinz Altmann was appointed the Novartis Senior Chemistry Expert in 2000. From Jan. 2003 until his move to the ETH, he was the acting Global Head of Chemistry of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research.

In 1998 Karl-Heinz Altmann received the “Novartis Leading Scientist Award“, an important internal science award of Novartis Pharma AG.

Professor Altmann’s research interests are at the interface between chemistry and biology, with a particular focus on the chemical synthesis and the biological and pharmacological profiling of biologically active natural products and their synthetic and semi-synthetic analogs.

This research on one hand aims at the understanding of the mechanism of action of such molecules and the elucidation of the structural requirements for biological activity. On the other hand, it tries to assess the therapeutic potential of such compounds with the ultimate goal to discover new therapeutics for clinical applications.

Personal Website:
Altmann Group


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Function in NCCR

  • Principal Investigator (PI)
  • Management Comm. Member

Intern/Extern: Intern


Professor, Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland (ETH)


  • Dr. phil. II University of Basel, Switzerland
  • Diploma in Chemistry, Johannes-Gutenberg Universität, Mainz, Germany

Selected memberships

  • American Chemical Society
  • Swiss Chemical Society

Selected awards

  • Novartis Leading Scientist Award (1998)  
  • Novartis Chemistry Lectureship for Central European Countries (2004)