Dr. Wittinghofer studied chemistry and received his PhD degree from the German Wool Research Institute (German acronym: DWI) in Aachen. In 1971 he became a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina. In 1974 he returned to Germany to work as a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg, where he became a group leader in 1980. In 1992 he qualified as professor at the University of Heidelberg. Since 1993 he has been head of the Department of Structural Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology in Dortmund and honorary professor of biochemistry in the Department of Chemistry of the Ruhr University Bochum. In 2010 he officially retired, but continues working as emeritus professor.
Dr. Wittinghofer has spent the last 30 years of his scientific life on the elucidation of structure-function relationships of GTP-binding proteins. One of his more memorable contributions is the work on the oncoprotein Ras where he showed how the protein looks in 3D and how it interacts with downstream components and its GTPase Activating Protein (GAP) and why oncogenic mutants have a blockade in this switch-OFF reaction.
He has received several awards, including the Louis-Jeantet-Prize for Medicine, the German Cancer Prize, and the Otto Warburg Medal of the Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Dr. Wittinghofer serves on a number of advisory editorial boards and in many Scientific Advisory Boards, is an Executive Editor of Biological Chemistry and an Associate Editor of Biopolymers.