Professor Reinhart Heinrich (1946 – 2006) started his research career in theoretical physics and then moved into biochemistry, becoming a full professor and head of theoretical biophysics at the Humboldt University, Berlin in 1990. He is considered a father of the field that is now named Systems Biology, since he investigated various topics such as modelling metabolic networks and metabolic control theory, modelling of signal transduction networks, nonlinear dynamics as applied to biological systems, protein translocation, lipid translocation, vesicular transport, and even DNA repair. Reinhart Heinrich was always searching for the principles that underlie observations, looking for different perspectives and connecting theoretical abstraction with biological evidence. In this way, he inspired numerous students, gave them insight and direction for future research in modern mathematical and theoretical biology, and organized a large number of memorable conferences. Gratefully acknowledging his stimulating support of our interdisciplinary field and, in particular, his way of guiding students and young scientists, the Board of ESMTB decided to offer a Doctoral Thesis Award annually to commemorate Reinhart Heinrich and his legacy in mathematical and theoretical biology.