Philipp Christen studied medicine at the University of Zurich, conducted an experimental thesis at the Department of Biochemistry and obtained his M.D. in 1965. After a 3 year postdoctoral appointment at the Biophysics Research Laboratory of Harvard Medical School he returned to the Department of Biochemistry. In 1970 he became Privatdozent (Lecturer) in Biochemistry and full professor in 1983. From 1997 until his retirement in 2004 Philipp Christen was head of the Department of Biochemistry.
Philipp Christen's research activities focus on the mechanism and the molecular evolution of vitamin B6-dependent enzymes and the mechanism and functional control of Hsp70 molecular chaperons.