History and Personalities of the GDNÄ

About the Society

The Society of German Natural Scientists and Physicians e. V. (GDNÄ) is the oldest German scientific association. It was founded in 1822 by the natural philosopher and doctor Lorenz Oken. The name of the GDNÄ has survived from this period, when the nowadays unusual term “natural scientist” was used for the profession of natural scientists.

With the first meeting, which took place in Leipzig on 18 September 1822, the GDNÄ will become the central lecture and discussion forum for new research findings at its annual meetings. Until the 20th century, the GDNÄ was an important forum for fundamental debates in medicine and the natural sciences. As a result of an increasing specialisation, the GDNÄ has developed into numerous professional associations in which the specialist discussions are currently being held.

The GDNÄ remains with its broad spectrum and, since its re-establishment after the Second World War, has continued the tradition of dialogue between the sciences as well as between science and the public in the fields of natural sciences, medicine and technology.


Important scientists have shaped the society and its meetings from the very beginning, among others:

  • Alexander von Humboldt
  • Justus von Liebig
  • Carl Friedrich Gauss
  • Hermann von Helmholtz
  • Carl Gustav Carus
  • Werner von Siemens
  • Albert Einstein
  • Max Planck
  • Ernst Ferdinand Sauerbruch
  • Werner Heisenberg

Also in recent times, numerous renowned scientists have been involved in the GDNÄ, such as Hubert Markl, Joachim Treusch, Detlev Ganten and Ernst Ludwig Winnacker. In 2007 and 2008 Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard held the office of president. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1995.

Wolfgang Wahlster is president of the GDNÄ in 2017 and 2018.