Hans Handovsky grew up in Vienna as the son of the civil servant Leopold Handovsky and his wife Karoline Sinaiberger.1 He studied in Vienna from 1906 to 1912. He was an assistant to Wolfgang Pauli at the biocolloid chemistry institute of the University of Vienna for a time. After completing his doctorate under the chemist Hans Leopold Meyer, who died in the Theresienstadt ghetto in 1942, Handovsky worked with Rudolf Gottlieb in Heidelberg (1912/13), Wilhelm Wiechowski in Prague (interrupted for a longer period by front-line service as a medical officer in World War I), and Emil Abderhalden in Halle. He joined the Pharmacological Institute of the University of Göttingen in 1920. Here he habilitated under W. Heubner in 1924 and was appointed associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology in 1926.
Persecuted as a Jew, the Austrian citizen had to leave Göttingen in 1933. He briefly worked at the Sorbonne before finding employment as an assistant at the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology with Corneille Heymans in Ghent, where he survived the German occupation and the Shoah. He returned to Göttingen after his retirement in 1957.
Handovsky became famous with his manual article on the physical chemistry of blood in Hans Hirschfeld's "Handbuch der Hämatologie" (1932). He later concerned himself with the importance of vitamins in the treatment of cancer, among other things.
Handovsky was affected by the anti-Semitic "purge" of the Wiesbaden congress by DGIM chairman Alfred Schittenhelm in 1933. Handovsky was supposed to have given a lecture on "Kupferfütterung und Kohlehydratstoffwechsel" (Copper Feeding and Carbohydrate Metabolism).