Werner Risau had established a nationally and internationally highly esteemed center for vascular research at the Max Planck Institute for Physiological and Clinical Research in Bad Nauheim, German, when he developed leukemia in spring 1998. After his untimely death in December 1998, the institute has been renamed to Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research.

The impact of Werner Risau´s research is maybe best reflected by the fact that even 10 years after his death, he still was one of the most cited authors in physiology (
LabTimes 2008, 2:38-40).

A generous donation by Werner´s widow, Barbara Risau, allowed colleagues and former group leaders of his department to establish a prize for young scientists who have obtained outstanding achievements in the field of endothelial cell biology, the research area Werner was actively involved in. The prize has been established in 2000 and was awarded once each year since then during the International Meeting of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Zellbiologie (DGZ), which kindly provided the infrastructure for this prize.