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John P. Wikswo

University Distinguished Professor of Physics, of Biomedical Engineering, and of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics
A.B. Learned Professor of Living State Physics
Founding Director, Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education

Research Interests

For more than 45 years, I have worked on measurements and modeling in biological physics, bioengineering, and electrophysiology, initially at the scale of humans and dogs, then with rodents, and more recently at the level of nanoliter bioreactors and individual cells. My group is developing microfluidic devices to solve problems relevant to human biology, medicine, and environmental toxicology. My current research addresses important questions in systems biology, particularly organs-on-chips and optimization of automated systems for combined experimental control and inference of quantitative metabolic and signaling models to better span the spatiotemporal scales of systems biology. Central to this effort is the development of intelligent well plates that serve as perfusion controllers, microclinical analyzers, and microformulators, and the refinement and use of tissue-chip models of the blood-brain barrier, blood-cerebral spinal fluid barrier, airway, and engineered cardiac tissue constructs. My colleagues and I are merging multichannel microfluidic pumps and valves, sensors, mass spectrometry, computational systems-biology models, and artificial intelligence/machine learning software to create robot scientists operating as self-driving biological laboratories for microbial and mammalian cells.


John P. Wikswo is the University Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, and Physics and A. B. Learned Professor of Living State Physics. He is the founding Director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education (VIIBRE), which he created in 2001 to foster and enhance interdisciplinary research in the biophysical sciences, bioengineering, and medicine at Vanderbilt. VIIBRE is also the home of the Systems Biology and Bioengineering Undergraduate Research Experience (SyBBURE), a year-round, multi-year program funded by Gideon Searle that has mentored more than 350 undergraduate students since 2006. Dr. Wikswo’s research has been supported by contracts and grants from the NIH, NSF, DARPA, DTRA, EPA, NASA, Chalmers University of Technology, private foundations, and industry partners. He has received two R&D 100 Awards: in 1984 (then the IR-100 Award) for the Neuromagnetic Current Probe, and in 2017 for the MultiWell MicroFormulator. His inventions have resulted in more than 40 issued patents, several of which have been licensed, and multiple pending patent applications.