Born in Vienna, biochemist Richard Kuhn of Austrian-German origin attended lectures at the University of Vienna in chemistry, and then finished his studies at the University of Munich, where he received his doctoral degree in 1922. After graduating, Kuhn continued his scientific career first in Munich, in Zurich, and then at the University of Heidelberg. Kuhn's studies focused on the theoretical problems of organic chemistry and biochemistry.
Kuhn investigated the structure of compounds related to the carotenoids, prepared them in pure form, and determined their constitution. He made substantial contribution to the medical application of vitamin B2 and vitamin B6. In 1938 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1938 for his work on carotenoids and vitamins.
Kuhn's was interested in a wide range of theoretical problems, and during his life he filled several scientific positions. In addition to being Principal at the newly founded Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Medical Research (today Max Planck Institut), he also served as of Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Heidelberg.
The dark side of Kuhn's work was that he collaborated with high-ranking Nazi officials and represented German chemists during World War II; and he is also credited with the discovery of the deadly nerve agent Soman.