Denis 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. He joined the faculty of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in 1994 and was promoted to the rank of full professor in 2003. He is currently T.H. Smoot Professor of Engineering Science. Wirtz has made important contributions to molecular and biophysical mechanisms of cell motility and adhesion and nuclear dynamics in health and disease. He pioneered the method of particle-tracking microrheology to probe the rheological properties of complex fluids and living cells and tissues. Wirtz is the associate director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT) and the Johns Hopkins Vice Provost for Research.
Kenneth Pienta is the Donald S. Coffey Professor of Urology with additional appointments in Oncology, Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences and a two-time American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor Award recipient. Between 1995 and 2013, Dr. Pienta served as the Director of the Prostate Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) at The University of Michigan, with a proven, peer-reviewed track record in organizing and administering a translational research program that successfully incorporates bench research, agent development, and clinical application. He has made major contributions in understanding prostate cancer biology and improving diagnosis and treatment. He is the Director of Research for the Brady Urological Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Program Leader for the Prostate Cancer Program of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. He also serves as the co-Director of the Johns Hopkins University inHealth Signature Initiative, a trans-University, cross-disciplinary effort to coordinate and apply the intelligent use of population health data for individual patients.