Julius Rebek was born in Hungary in 1944. He completed his Ph.D. in 1970 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston. From 1970 to 1976 he was an assistant professor at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), and from 1976 to 1979 an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Once tenured, he taught and carried out research there until 1989, when he joined the MIT faculty. Since 1996 he has been the director of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, one of the world's leading research institutions for chemistry and biochemistry.
Rebek was nominated for this research award jointly with the chemists, Prof. Dr. Christoph Schalley of Freie Universität, and Prof. Dr. Thomas Carell of LMU Munich. During the next year Rebek will be at Freie Universität Berlin several times for research purposes.