Matthias Egger studied medicine at the University of Bern. His interest in epidemiology and public health was already evident during his student days. He spent his elective year at a rural hospital near Kumasi in Ghana, where he carried out his first scientific study (of the treatment of Buruli ulcer). Having completed his medical studies, he did his clinical training in surgery, paediatrics and internal medicine from 1984 to 1990 at various hospitals in Switzerland.
Matthias Egger then continued his education in epidemiology and biostatistics at the renowned London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This was followed by a two-year period of research at University College London. In 1994 he returned to the University of Bern on an Ambizione grant from the SNSF. There he helped to set up the Swiss HIV cohort study, a national longitudinal study that examines HIV-positive people at regular intervals and provides clinicians and public health specialists with important data on the treatment of HIV infection and the HIV epidemic in Switzerland. This was followed by a research visit to the data centre of the Community Program for Clinical Research on AIDS at the University of Minnesota. In 1998 he returned to the UK, where he worked as a Senior Scientist at the Medical Research Council and from 2001 was Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Bristol.
In 2002 Matthias Egger was appointed Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health and Director of the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM) at the University of Bern. In subsequent years he reorganised the Institute, creating focus areas in infectious diseases and cancer, healthcare research and epidemiological methods. A Clinical Trials Unit (CTU Bern) to promote patient-oriented clinical research was set up in 2007 with the aid of start-up funding from the SNSF. Passionate about teaching, he overhauled the epidemiology and public health curriculum in Bern, taught on the Erasmus Summer Programme and European Educational Programme in Epidemiology and set up the Swiss Epidemiology Winter School. He is currently working on projects involving vaccination against Ebola, studies on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and cancer in southern Africa and methodological projects.