Herwig Baier carried out his PhD research with Friedrich Bonhoeffer at the MPI of Developmental Biology in Tübingen, before he joined Bill Harris' laboratory at the University of California, San Diego, for his postdoc. In 1998, after a brief stint as a visiting scientist in Janni Nüsslein-Volhard's lab in Tübingen, he joined the faculty of the Department of Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco, where he moved through the ranks to become Full Professor. In 2011, the Max Planck Society recruited him to lead the newly founded Department “Genes – Circuits – Behavior” at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried near Munich, Germany.
The goal of Herwig Baier's research is to understand how genes assemble neuronal circuits and how these circuits in turn control behavior. His team is particularly interested in the visual system and use zebrafish as their experimental model.