Erwin Wagner received his university education in Austria and obtained his PhD in 1978 for studies on the regulation of gene expression during bacterial T1 infection. Further to his postdoctoral training in Innsbruck, he joined the laboratory of B. Mintz at the Fox Chase Cancer Centre in Philadelphia (USA) in 1979, where he worked on the genetic control of mouse development by developing micro-injection of DNA into fertilised eggs and gene transfer technologies into stem cells and mice.
In 1983 he became a Group Leader at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg (Germany) and then joined the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna (Austria) in 1988 as a Senior Scientist and Founding Member. Erwin Wagner worked at the IMP for 20 years heading a Senior Research Group working on gene functions in mammalian development and oncogenesis. He was also appointed Deputy Director of the IMP from 1997 to 2008.
He and his lab moved to the CNIO in 2008, where he is currently Vice Director and also Director of the newly founded BBVA Foundation – CNIO Cancer Cell Biology Programme as well as Head of the Genes, Development and Disease Group.