Short CV/Education and training

  • 1977 – 1985
    Biology in Cologne, Tübingen, Duke University

    PhD. Studies University of Cologne, Inst. for Genetics under the supervision of Klaus Rajewsky and Andreas Radbruch

  • 1990
    Medical Institute for Environmental Hygiene, Düsseldorf

  • 1993
    short stay at Basel Institut für Immunologie, Basel, Schweiz

  • 1995
    short stay at Departement de Toxicologie, INRA, Toulouse, France

  • 1999 – 2000
    Sabbatical, Harvard University and University of California at San Francisco

  • 1995 – 2006
    Principal investigator of project C5 within SFB 503 "Molecular and cellular mediators of exogenous noxes", board member

  • 2004
    Professor at the Heinrich-Heine University of Düsseldorf, Faculty of Science

Selected publications

  • Esser C, Götz C. Filling the gaps: need for research on cell-specific xenobiotic metabolism in the skin. Arch Toxicol. 2013 Mar 8. [Epub ahead of print]

  • Kiss EA, Vonarbourg C, Kopfmann S, Hobeika E, Finke D, Esser C, Diefenbach A. Natural aryl hydrocarbon receptor ligands control organogenesis of intestinal lymphoid follicles. Science. 2011;334:1561-5.

  • Kadow S, Jux B, Zahner SP, Wingerath B, Chmill S, Clausen BE, Hengstler J, Esser C. Aryl hydrocarbon receptor is critical for homeostasis of invariant gammadelta T cells in the murine epidermis. J Immunol. 2011;187:3104-10.

  • Esser, C. Neither bad luck nor chance ? the health crisis in Zimbabwe in the context of human rights Menschenrechte und Gesundheit / Amnesty-Aktionsnetz Heilberufe, Jg. 1, 2011

  • Esser C, Jux B. Small chemicals, bioactivation, and the immune system--a fragile balance of i-tox and benefits? Chem Biodivers. 2009;6:2138-43.

  • Esser C, Rannug A, Stockinger B. The aryl hydrocarbon receptor in immunity. Trends Immunol. 2009;30:447-54.

  • Jux B, Kadow S, Esser C. Langerhans cell maturation and contact hypersensitivity are impaired in aryl hydrocarbon receptor-null mice. J Immunol. 2009;182:6709-17.

  • Schwenk M, Sack U, Esser C, Klein R. Diagnostic relevance of the determination of lymphocyte subpopulations in environmental medicine. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2007;210:177-98.

  • Krämer U, Esser C. Cigarette smoking, metabolic gene polymorphism, and psoriasis. J Invest Dermatol. 2006;126:693-4

  • Jeon MS, Esser C. The murine IL-2 promoter contains distal regulatory elements responsive to the Ah receptor, a member of the evolutionarily conserved bHLH-PAS transcription factor family. J Immunol. 2000;165:6975-83

  • Tonn T, Esser C, Schneider EM, Steinmann-Steiner-Haldenstätt W, Gleichmann E. Persistence of decreased T-helper cell function in industrial workers 20 years after exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. Environ Health Perspect. 1996;104:422-6.

  • Kremer J, Lai ZW, Esser C. Evidence for the promotion of positive selection of thymocytes by Ah receptor agonist 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. Eur J Pharmacol. 1995;293:413-27.

  • Kremer J, Gleichmann E, Esser C. Thymic stroma exposed to arylhydrocarbon receptor-binding xenobiotics fails to support proliferation of early thymocytes but induces differentiation. J Immunol. 1994;153(6):2778-86

  • Esser C, Radbruch A. Immunoglobulin class switching: molecular and cellular analysis. Annu Rev Immunol. 1990;8:717-35.

Selected projects

  • Role of aryl hydrocarbon receptor in oral tolerance

  • Role of aryl hydrocarbon receptor in skin barrier function and for the development and function of skin immune cells, particularly of gamma-delta T-cells (DETC)

  • Metabolic syndrome and AHR

Membership in scientific bodies/juries

  • Member of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Immunologie (German Society of Immunology), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Toxikologie (DGPT; German Society of Toxicology), Robert-Koch-Gesellschaft, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Zytometrie

  • Spokesperson for the German Society for Immunology (DGfI) equal opportunity committee

  • Member of the Programme Committe of the DGPT, Speaker of the Immunotoxicology Working Group within the DGPT

  • Member of Editorial Board of Archives of Toxicology

  • Scientific Reviewer for, e.g.


    Journal of Investigative Dermatology

    Journal of Immunology

    Archives of Toxicolology

    Toxicology Letters

  • Reviewer for the European Union

    ANRS, France

    Austrian and Dutch Research Organizations

Additional qualifications

  • Mentor in the Selma Meyer Mentoring Programme at Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf

Soft Skills/Other activities and achievements

Additional interests

  • Human rights (Board member of Amnesty International Germany 2002 – 2005)

  • Ethical aspects of biological sciences

  • Public understanding of science

Soft Skills

  • Many years of experience teaching and supervising doctoral students, Diploma students, Master students and Bachelor students

  • Organized several scientific conferences of more than 100 participants

  • Has received training in Public understanding of science


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  1. Receptor and Diet Influence Skin Barrier

    For a long time scientists have speculated about the function of the aryl-hydrocarbon receptor in the skin. It was believed that it is important for the protective function of the skin. Prof. Charlotte Esser and her team now delivered proof of the receptor's function, as well as of the influence our diet has on our skin.