Erika von Mutius is driven by the goal of one day being able to prevent asthma and allergies in young children. Her research, which focusses on studying how genetic and environmental factors influence these diseases, has led to several important developments in our understanding and treatment of asthma and allergies. For example, her work has crucially led to the understanding that exposure during early childhood to certain microbes, such as those found on farms, can reduce the probability of developing asthma or allergies.
Erika studied medicine in Munich, Germany. She specialised in paediatrics before moving to the States where she pursued her research career in allergology and gained a degree in epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health. She is now professor of Pediatric Allergology and head of the Asthma and Allergy Department at the Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital in Munich. Since 2017 she is also head of the Institute for Asthma and Allergy Prevention at Helmholtz Zentrum Munich – German Research Center for Environmental Health. She is also a member of the German Centre for Lung Research (DZL).
She has received several awards and prizes for her work. In 2010 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Helsinki and in 2013 the Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz Prize from the German Research Foundation, the most prestigious research award in Germany. In 2013 she was also awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (“Bundesverdienstkreuz”) for her contribution to society.