Dr. John Wikswo

Topic: Bioengineering and Biophysics
Dr. Wikswo is the Gordon A. Cain University Professor and the A.B. Learned Professor of Living State Physics. He is the director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education (VIIBRE), and a professor in the Biomedical Engineering, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics, and Physics & Astronomy Departments. He uses novel instrumentation, quantitative measurements, and mathematical models to study cellular metabolism and signaling in nanobioreactors, and the electrodynamics of isolated rabbit hearts. He made the first successful measurements of the magnetic field of an isolated nerve axon and a single muscle fiber, and was the first to visualize virtual electrodes in cardiac tissue during strong electrical shocks. Since 2001, he has been directing a large research program to develop microfabricated tools and computer algorithms to instrument and control single cells and small cell populations. He and his collaborators are developing advanced BioMicroElectroMechanical Systems (BioMEMS) to study metabolic and signaling dynamics; cell chemotaxis and haptotaxis in cancer, angiogenesis, and wound healing; and cell-cell interactions in heterogeneous cell populations. His long-term research goal is to develop automated, instrumented bioreactors capable of using symbolic regression to infer dynamic metabolic and signaling models from small population of primary and cultured cells, and to then use these models to control these cells and to create abiotic signaling networks for sensing, control, and computation.