One in eleven adults worldwide is diabetic. Around 10 percent suffer from type 1 and are dependent on insulin – thus on the work of Helmut Zahn. The German chemist became known for the first synthesis of insulin in 1963, paving the way for treatment that was largely free of side effects. Before that, diabetes was treated with unmodified animal insulin.
In 1979, the first new insulin preparation came onto the market. In Aachen, Helmut Zahn developed more than 100 insulin variants. Zahn’s name is also inextricably linked with chemical analysis methods for polyamides and polyesters, which were adopted by the synthetic fiber industry.
Helmut Zahn studied chemistry at the Technical University of Karlsruhe. He published over 700 works, held honorary doctorates from the Universities of Barcelona, Belfast, Bradford and Düsseldorf, among others. In 1979 he was awarded the Austrian Decoration of Honor for Science and Art, and in 1982 he became a foreign member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.