Stefan W. Hell received his doctorate in physics from the University of Heidelberg in 1990. From 1991 to 1993, he worked in Heidelberg at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, followed by a three-and-a-half-year stay at the University of Turku, Finland. In 1997, he was appointed leader of a junior research group at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen. In 2002, with his appointment as a Director at the institute, Hell established the department of NanoBiophotonics. Since 2004, he has also led a group, the Optical Nanoscopy Division, at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg. Stefan Hell has been the recipient of numerous awards for his research, including the 10th German Future Prize in 2006 and the Leibniz Prize as well as the Lower Saxony State Award in 2008. In 2009, he received the Otto Hahn Prize in Physics, followed in 2011 by the Hansen Family Award, the Körber European Science Prize, the Meyenburg Prize and the Gothenburg Lise Meitner Prize. He was additionally awarded a doctor honoris causa in medicine by the University of Turku, Finland, in 2009.
In 2014, Stefan Hell has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with Eric Betzig and William E. Moerner.