Denis Wirtz is the Theophilus H. Smoot Professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering.
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 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. He joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1994 and has joint appointments in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Whiting School of Engineering and the Department of Oncology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.