Genzel studied physics at the University of Freiburg and the University of Bonn where he did his Doctor of Philosophy in 1978 and, in the same year, his Doctor of Philosophy thesis on radioastronomy at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy.
Postdoctoral researcher Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1978—1980. Miller fellow University California, Berkeley, 1980—1981, associate professor, 1981—1985, part-time professor, since 1999. Director Max-Planck Institute Extraterrestrial Physics, Munich, since 1986.
Honorary professor Ludwig-Maximilian University.
Royal Society; German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. French Academy of Sciences. National Academy of Sciences.
Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
He became Scientific Member of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in 1986, and director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching and lectured at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München where he has been honorary Professor since 1988. Member of the United States and German Astronomical and Physical Societies
Foreign member of the United States National Academy of Sciences, 2000
Foreign member of the Académie des Sciences (Institut de France), 1998
Member of the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina, 2002
Member of the European Academy of Sciences, 2002
Senior member of the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2003
Foreign member of the Royal Spanish Academy of Sciences, 2011
Foreign member of the Royal Society of London, 2012.