Denis Wirtz, vice provost for research at The Johns Hopkins University, directs the Johns Hopkins Cancer Nanotechnology Training Center, and is the Theophilus Halley Smoot Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering. He is also the Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology, director of the NCI-funded postdoctoral and pre-doctoral training programs in nanotechnology for cancer medicine, and a member of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Dr. Wirtz earned his Engineering Physics degree at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium and M.Sc. and PhD in Chemical Engineering at Stanford University (’93). Dr. Wirtz is a fellow of the APS and the AIMBE. He joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1994 and has joint appointments in the departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Oncology. He was a winner of the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award and the Whitaker Foundation Biomedical Engineering Foundation Award.
Dr. Wirtz studies the biophysical properties of healthy and diseased cells, including interactions between adjacent cells and the role of cellular architecture on nuclear shape and gene expression. Cell biophysics, single molecule manipulation, intracellular particle trafficking, instrument development, tissue engineering, and nanotechnology in biology and medicine are some of Dr. Wirtz’ research interests. He was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his contributions to cell micromechanics and cell adhesion. He also was distinguished for his development and application for particle tracking methods to probe the micromechanical properties of living cells in normal conditions and disease state.