The natural philosopher and physician Lorenz Oken founded the Society of German Natural Scientists and Physicians with the goal of promoting personal relations between these two faculties.
With the first meeting, which took place in Leipzig on 18 September 1822, the GDNÄ became the central lecture and discussion forum for new research findings at its annual meetings which followed.
From the very beginning, personalities such as Max Planck, Ernst Haeckel, Rudolf Virchow and Justus von Liebig have shaped the society and its meetings. A major part of the discussion about Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity took place here, and the breakthrough of chemotherapy of bacterial infections was experienced by the participants in 1936 with a lecture by Gerhard Domagk, to name just two of the numerous examples of revolutionary developments in science that have shaped the meetings of the GDNÄ.
Since the reestablishment of the meetings after the end of the Second World War, the tradition of exchanging current research results has been continued.
In memory of its founder, the Society awards the Lorenz Oken Medal at its meetings to personalities who interpret and report on scientific and medical findings in a generally understandable way.