Helmholtz Association
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The Managing Director

The Managing Director of the Helmholtz Association supports, advises and represents the President in the performance of his duties and manages the Association’s head offices in Berlin and Bonn with their branches in Brussels, Moscow and Beijing. As a special representative on administrative matters, the Managing Director represents the Helmholtz Association both internally and externally. Along with the President and the Vice-Presidents, the Managing Director is a member of the Executive Committee of the Helmholtz Association.

The Managing Director’s responsibilities

The Managing Director is primarily responsible for the procedures regarding the allocation of funds under the Association’s programme-oriented funding and investments in further expansion. He ensures that the resources are allocated transparently and is responsible for key output figures in terms of overall coordination of the Helmholtz Centres. The Managing Director also provides support on the establishment of long-term partnerships between research and business via technology transfer instruments (spin-off support and the Validation Fund).

The Managing Director is nominated by the President and elected for a term of five years by the general assembly. The Managing Director may be re-elected.

The current Managing Director: Dr. Rolf Zettl

Rolf Zettl has been Managing Director of the Helmholtz Association since 1 October 2008. On 19 September 2012, he was re-elected for a further term from 1 October 2013 to 30 September 2018.

Transferring technology to society and a focus on business

Rolf Zettl holds a PhD in biology. He trained at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart and the University of Tübingen before doing his doctorate at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne. After working for two years in Heidelberg as unit head and scientific officer for the chairman of the management board of the German Cancer Research Center, Professor Harald zur Hausen, Zettl was appointed managing director of the resource centre at the German Human Genome Project in Berlin. He was a member and chairman of the board of two biotechnology start-ups, which he also co-founded. Zettl then moved to the Charité, where he headed the strategic corporate development and project management business division. He has been managing director of the Helmholtz Association and manager of the head office since 2008.



Dr. Rolf Zettl

Managing Director

Helmholtz Association

rolf.zettl (at) helmholtz.de

Dr Alexa Luksch

Executive Assistant to the Managing Director and to the President

Helmholtz Association

Phone: +49 30 206329-39
alexa.luksch (at) helmholtz.de

Susann Wessel

Assistant Management

Helmholtz Association

Phone: +49 30 206329-71
susann.wessel (at) helmholtz.de

Desirée Holzner

Presidents` Office, Office (on maternity leave)

Helmholtz Association

Phone: +49 30 206329-11
desiree.holzner (at) helmholtz.de