Ernst Theodor Rietschel received his doctorate in 1971 in Freiburg, where he subsequently gained his habilitation in 1978. Following this, he worked as a post-doc researcher at the University of Minnesota, USA and the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg. In 1980, he was awarded a professorship at the University of Lübeck; he was the director at the Borstel Research Centre until 2005. He was the president of the Leibniz Association from 2005 to 2010 and chairman of the board of the Berlin Institute of Health from 2013 to 2015. Ernst Theodor Rietschel has received numerous awards, including the Ordre pour le Merite of the French Republic, the Aronson Prize of the Senate of Berlin, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (First Class), and honorary doctorates in medicine from the universities of Lausanne and Lübeck. He is a member and honorary member of numerous scientific societies, including the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.