John Wikswo

John Wikswo

John P Wikswo


For the past 40 years, John Wikswo has worked on measurements and modeling in 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. He explored in depth the relationship between cardiac electric and magnetic fields and the generation of the vector magnetocardiogram. With his collaborators, Wikswo made the first measurements of the magnetic field of a single axon and a single skeletal muscle fiber. All of these studies provided key insights into the parameters that relate the intracellular action currents to the transmembrane potential and extracellular electric and magnetic fields. His group played a central role in demonstrating the part performed by tissue anisotropy in the response of cardiac tissue to strong electric shocks and the behavior of cardiac virtual electrodes, which are explained by the doubly anisotropic bidomain of cardiac electrical activity. He also participated in pioneering magnetic measurements of the magnetoenterogram, a non-invasive recording of the magnetic field of the electrical activity in the human gastrointestinal tract. John Wikswo then spent a decade exploring the capabilities of superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) magnetometers for non-destructive testing of plastics and corroding aluminum.

John Wikswo is the founding Director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Integrative Biosystems Research and Education (VIIBRE), which was created in 2001 to foster and enhance interdisciplinary research in the biophysical sciences, bioengineering, and medicine at Vanderbilt.

John Wikswo is now focusing his personal research effort on systems biology, primarily from the perspective of the optimization of automated systems for combined experimental control and inference of quantitative metabolic and signaling models and organs-on-a-chip to help us better span the breadth of spatiotemporal scales of systems biology and pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. In this context, he and his colleagues are actively developing microfabricated devices for measuring cellular properties and controlling cellular behavior, fabrication of large-scale instruments and biomedical devices, analysis of data, design of experiments, and the development and application of mathematical models of cellular signaling and metabolism.

He has also gives (among others) a TED talk and a recently published an interview about Organ-on-a-chip.


B.A. – Physics, University of Virginia, 1970

M.S. – Physics, Stanford University, 1973

Ph.D. – Physics, Stanford University, 1975

Representative Publications:

John Wikswo has published more than 200 peers reviewed publications.

John Wikswo: VIIBRE’s page


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