Erwin Wagner is a molecular biologist recognized for his work on pioneering technologies for engineering the mouse genome producing highly instructive mouse models. These have revealed molecular mechanisms of development, inflammation, metabolism and cancer. He is most known for his ground breaking discoveries on the roles of AP-1 (Fos/Jun) transcription factors in the pathogenesis of fibrosis and bone, liver and skin cancer.
Wagner was born in Wolfsberg, Austria. He graduated in biochemistry from the Technical University Graz, Austria and following studies in Berlin and Innsbruck with a Ph.D. in molecular biology in 1979. He was a postdoctoral fellow in developmental biology at Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia and joined the faculty of EMBL, Heidelberg in 1983 before joining in 1988 the newly founded IMP, Vienna, Austria. He became Vice Director and Chair of the Cancer Cell Biology Program he established at CNIO, Madrid in 2008 before he returned to Austria in 2019, heading a Research Group on Genes and Disease at the Vienna Medical School, Departments of Laboratory Medicine and Dermatology. He is an elected EMBO member and was the first recipient of the Wittgenstein Award. He was awarded the EMBO Gold Medal and two ERC Advanced Grants.

Research Interests

Erwin Wagner's laboratory is interested to analyze gene function in healthy and pathological conditions, e.g. in tumor development using the mouse as a model organism, but also employing patient-derived samples. The Group's strategic goals are to achieve a better understanding of the events leading to disease and to discover molecular mechanisms that could provide a basis for novel therapies. The team investigates how a healthy organ functions within a complex organism focusing on skin, liver and bone but we also study inflammation, fibrosis, metabolism, tumorigenesis and cancer cachexia.
The research program covers multiple aspects of cell biology, ranging from stem cells, tumor cell interactions with host cells/environment such as tumor-associated macrophages and fibroblasts. Powerful state-of-the-art mouse genetic models, human cellular systems, high-throughput genomic/proteomic and biochemical tools as well as patient-derived materials are employed. For example, genes encoding for the transcription factor complex AP-1 (Fos/Jun) were manipulated in mouse models to study diseases such as psoriasis, systemic fibrosis, arthritis, hepatocellular carcinoma and osteosarcoma. This has allowed over the years to define molecular pathways leading to disease development and to identify novel therapeutic targets that were subsequently assessed in second-generation mouse models.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 41: Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology

Secondary Section

Section 43: Immunology and Inflammation