Berendsen was born on 22 September 1934 in Apeldoorn. In 1962 he obtained his PhD cum laude from the University of Groningen, with a dissertation titled: "An NMR study of collagen hydration". In March 1963 Berendsen was appointed lector of physical chemistry at his alma mater, and four years later became full professor. He retired in 1999. At Groningen Berendsen was group leader of molecular dynamics.
In 1976 Berendsen and Wilfred van Gunsteren together with the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winners Martin Karplus and Michael Levitt were involved in the start of theories on molecular calculating.
Berendsen was elected a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1979. In 2013 he was awarded the Berni J. Alder Prize by the Centre européen de calcul atomique et moléculaire. The jury amongst other points praised his development of the GROMOS type of force field.
- "In memoriam Herman Berendsen | Molecular Dynamics Group | Research | University of Groningen". www.rug.nl. Retrieved 2019-10-11.
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- "Berni J. Alder Award for Herman Berendsen". University of Groningen. 12 June 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
- "Nobelprijs voor Scheikunde naar Karplus, Levitt en Washel". NU.nl. 9 October 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
- "Herman Berendsen". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 25 April 2016. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
- "Berni J. Alder CECAM Prize". Centre européen de calcul atomique et moléculaire. Retrieved 25 April 2016.