Due to the turmoil of the Second World War, Kasper Kirschner grew up in Indonesia but settled with his parents in Germany soon after the war ended, where he studied Chemistry at Munich University and from 1957 till 1963 at the “Max-Planck-Institut für Zellchemie”, in the research group led by the Nobel laureate Feodor Lynen, investigating fatty acid metabolism. He completed his studies as a postdoctoral fellow working for Manfred Eigen (who was also honored with the Nobel Prize) at the “Max-Planck-Institut für physikalische Chemie” in Göttingen, as well as training further at Stanford University in the USA.
In 1971, he was appointed to Professor of Biophysical Chemistry at the newly founded Biozentrum, thus becoming one of its founding fathers. Inspired by his work in Göttingen, on the allosteric effects of the mechanism of action of enzymes, he focused his work in Basel on the relationship between the three dimensional structure of an enzyme and its catalytic action. He was one of the first scientific researchers in Basel who was consistent in applying the newest methods in biotechnology in his work, introducing these to his students and colleagues in his lectures.
Today, many of his former lab members hold leading positions at universities or in the pharmaceutical industry. During his term of office as Chairman (Obmann) of the Biozentrum, he skillfully managed the establishment of the privately financed Maurice E. Müller Institute for Structural Biology at the Biozentrum. In his “Block Course in Biochemistry”, which he taught together with a colleague for over a decade, he proved also to be a gifted teacher, who was extremely popular among the students.