Denis Wirtz

Denis Wirtz, PhD

Dr. Wirtz directs the Johns Hopkins Physical Sciences-Oncology Center and co-directs the Cancer Nanotechnology Training Center, both National Cancer Institute-funded entities. He also serves as associate director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology.

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 among his research interests. Wirtz was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his contributions to cell micromechanics and cell adhesion. AAAS also recognized Wirtz for his development and applications for particle tracking methods to probe the micromechanical properties of living cells in normal conditions and disease state. In addition, Wirtz is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. He is a past recipient of the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award and the Whitaker Foundation Biomedical Engineering Foundation Award.

Wirtz has authored over 190 peer-reviewed articles published in top journals including Science, Nature, Nature Cell Biology, Nature Methods, Nature Reviews Cancer, Nature Materials, Nature Protocols, PNAS, Nature Communications, and Journal of Cell Biology.  Ten of his PhD students and postdoctoral fellows are in faculty positions at research universities.  His work at Hopkins has been cited >13,000 times and has an h-index of 65. He has also given numerous presentations at universities and research institutions around the world.

Wirtz earned his bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium and master’s and doctoral degrees in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University.

Dr Wirtz is a biophysicist studying the role of cell shape, architecture and interaction in the gene expression regulation.