Denis Wirtz

Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, Stanford University (’93)

Secondary Appointments: Materials Science and Engineering, Oncology and Pathology

Office Hours:
Please contact Ms. Dynaesty Griffin (dygriffin@jhu.edu) to schedule an appointment with Dr. Wirtz.

Research Interests

  • 3D Cell Motility
  • Ageing and Cancer
  • Tumor Microenvironment
  • Cancer Metastasis
  • Digital Pathology

Denis Wirtz is Theophilus Halley Smoot Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering. He is co-director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoaBioTechnology (INBT), director of the HHMI-funded graduate training program in nanotechnology for biology and medicine, director of the NCI-funded postdoctoral training program in nanotechnology for cancer medicine, and director of the new NCI-funded Engineering in Oncology Center. Wirtz earned a Physics Engineering degree at the Ecole Polytechnique of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium) in 1988. With a Hoover fellowship, he moved to Stanford University, where he earned a PhD in 1993 in Chemical Engineering for work in polymer physics. With a “Human Capital Mobility” fellowship of the European Union, he did postdoctoral research at the Ecole Supérieure de Physique et Chimie Industrielles (ESPCI) in Paris, France. Wirtz joined the faculty of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in 1994.

Wirtz studies the molecular and biophysical mechanisms of cell motility and adhesion and nuclear dynamics in health and disease, in particular aging, cancer, and progeria. He pioneered the method of particle-tracking microrheology to probe the rheological properties of complex fluids and living cells and tissues. He was named fellow of the Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in 2007, fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2009, and fellow of the APS in 2010. He was a winner of the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award and the Whitaker Foundation Biomedical Engineering Foundation Award.



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