Wolf Reik obtained his MD from the University of Hamburg. He did his thesis work with Rudolf Jaenisch, and postdoctoral work with Azim Surani in Cambridge. He became a Fellow of the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine at Cambridge and subsequently the Head of the Epigenetics Programme at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge and its Associate Director. He is honorary Professor of Epigenetics at the University of Cambridge and Associate Faculty at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, where he is a founding member of the Centre for Single Cell Genomics.
His research interests are in mammalian epigenetics, particularly in epigenetic reprogramming during mammalian development and its role in stem cell biology and inheritance. He has published more than 180 research articles and has an h-factor of 88. He won the Wellcome Prize in Physiology and is a member of EMBO and the Academia Europaea, and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal Society.