Herbert Waldmann studied chemistry and completed his PhD in organic chemistry in 1985. During the next two years he worked as postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, USA. In 1991 he qualified as professor at the University of Mainz. Shortly thereafter he was appointed professor of organic chemistry at the University of Bonn. In 1993 he became professor of organic chemistry at the University of Karlsruhe.
Since 1999 he has headed the Department of Chemical Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology and, concurrently, has also held the position of professor of biochemistry at the Technische Universität Dortmund. He has been awarded numerous academic distinctions for his work, including the Otto Bayer Prize, the Emil-Fischer Medal of the German Chemical Society (GDCh), die Hans-Herloss-Medal and the Max Bergmann Medal.