Karin Wuertz-Kozak Headshot

Karin Wuertz-Kozak


Department of Biomedical Engineering
Kate Gleason College of Engineering
Affiliated Faculty, Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences

Office Hours
Upon Request
Office Location
Office Mailing Address
106 Lomb Memorial Dr.

Karin Wuertz-Kozak


Department of Biomedical Engineering
Kate Gleason College of Engineering
Affiliated Faculty, Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences


BS, MS, University of Regensburg (Germany); Ph.D., University of Ulm (Germany); MBA, University of Cumbria (UK)


Dr. Wuertz-Kozak is a pharmacist by training, holds a Ph.D. in Human Biology from the University of Ulm in Germany and an MBA in Leadership and Sustainability from the University of Cumbria in the UK. After a Postdoc at the University of Vermont in the US, she was a group leader at the University of Zurich and the ETH Zurich in Switzerland. Before joining RIT in October of 2019, she was appointed as Assistant Professor at ETH Zurich for 3 years, where she was the recipient of the Swiss National Science Foundation Professorship Award. Currently, Dr. Wuertz-Kozak holds the position of Kate Gleason Endowed Full Professor of Biomedical Engineering and leads the Tissue Regeneration and Mechanobiology Laboratory. Her laboratory aims to understand the cellular mechanisms underlying specific pathologies, with a focus on inflammation, and to utilize this knowledge for the development of novel treatment options that allow for tissue regeneration and pain reduction. Specifically, the group uses cells, biomaterials, biologics, genome engineering, and mechanical cues to promote tissue regeneration.


Areas of Expertise

Select Scholarship

Journal Paper
Riemann, M., et al. "Acrylonitrile and Pullulan Based Nanofiber Mats as Easily Accessible Scaffolds for 3D Skin Cell Models Containing Primary Cells." Cells 11. 3 (2022): 445. Web.
Baumgartner, Laura, et al. "Multiscale Regulation of the Intervertebral Disc: Achievements in Experimental, in Silico, and Regenerative Research." Int. J. Mol. Sci. 22. (2021): 703. Web.
Wangler, Sebastian, et al. "Uncovering the secretome of mesenchymal stromal cells exposed to healthy, traumatic, and degenerative intervertebral discs: a proteomic analysis." Stem Cell Research 12. 1 (2021): 11. Web.
Pieri, Andrea De, et al. "Engineering Advanced In Vitro Models of Systemic Sclerosis for Drug Discovery and Development." Advanced Biology. (2021): epub ahead. Web.
Herold, Tamara, et al. "Effect of BMI on the clinical outcome following microsurgical decompression in over-the-top technique: bi-centric study with an analysis of 744 patients." European Spine Journal epub ahead. (2021): online. Web.
Cambria, E., et al. "TRPV4 mediates cell damage induced by hyperphysiological compression and regulates COX2/PGE2 in intervertebral discs." JOR Spine. (2021): epub ahead. Web.
He, Yangyang, et al. "Extracellular vesicles: potential mediators of psychosocial stress contribution to osteoporosis?" Int. J. Mol. Sci. 22. 11 (2021): 5846. Web.
Schoeller, Jean, et al. "pH-Responsive Electrospun Nanofibers and Their Applications." Polymer Reviews. (2021): 1-49. Web.
Schoeller, Jean, et al. "pH-Responsive Chitosan/Alginate Polyelectrolyte Complexes on Electrospun PLGA Nanofibers for Controlled Drug Release." MDPI Nanomaterials 11. 7 (2021): 1850. Web.
Lazarus, Emily, et al. "Sulfated Hydrogels in Intervertebral Disc and Cartilage Research." Cells 10. 12 (2021): 3568. Web.
Baumgartner, L., et al. "Evidence-based Network Modelling to Simulate Nucleus Pulposus Multicellular Activity in different Nutritional and pro-Inflammatory Environments." Frontiers Bioengineering 10. 9 (2021): 734258. Web.
Piazza, Nathan, et al. "Therapeutic Potential of Extracellular Vesicles in Degenerative Diseases of the Intervertebral Disc." Front Bioeng Biotechnol 17. 8 (2020): 311. Web.
Cambria, Elena, et al. "Cell-Laden Agarose-Collagen Composite Hydrogels for Mechanotransduction Studies." Front Bioeng Biotechnol 21. 8 (2020): 346. Web.
Cazzanelli, Petra and Karin Wuertz-Kozak. "MicroRNAs in Intervertebral Disc Degeneration, Apoptosis, Inflammation, and Mechanobiology." Int J Mol Sci 21. 10 (2020): E3601. Web.
Sadowska, Aleksandra, et al. "Hypo-osmotic loading induces expression of IL-6 in nucleus pulposus cells of the intervertebral disc independent of TRPV4 and TRPM7." Front Pharmacology. 11 (2020): 952. Web.
Tai, YK, et al. "Magnetic fields modulate metabolism and gut microbiome in correlation with Pgc-1α expression: Follow-up to an in vitro magnetic mitohormetic study." FASEB J 34. 8 (2020): 11143-11167. Web.
Schmid, Bettina, et al. "The role of Cutibacterium acnes in intervertebral disc inflammation." Biomedicines 8. 7 (2020): E186. Web.
Cambria, Elena, et al. "TRPV4 Inhibition and CRISPR-Cas9 Knockout Reduce Inflammation Induced by Hyper-physiological Stretching in Hhuman Annulus Fibrosus Cells." Cells 9. (2020): 1736. Web.
Pieri, Andrea De, et al. "Electrospinning and 3D bioprinting for intervertebral disc tissue engineering." JOR Spine 2020. (2020): epub ahead. Web.
Wuertz-Kozak, K., et al. "Effects of early life stress on bone homeostasis in mice and humans." Int J Mol Sci 21. 18 (2020): E6634. Web.
Schmidli, R.M., et al. "Fibronectin Fragments and Inflammation during Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease." Frontiers in Veterinary Science. (2020): epub ahead. Web.
Wippert, Pia-Maria, et al. "Alterations in Bone Homeostasis and Microstructure Related to Depression and Allostatic Load." Psychother Psychosom 88. 6 (2019): 383-385. Web.
Krupkova, Olga, et al. "Expression and Activity of Hyaluronidases HYAL-1, HYAL-2 and HYAL-3 in the Human Intervertebral Disc." European Spine Journal 29. 3 (2020): 605-615. Web.
Sadowska, A., et al. "Differential Regulation of TRP Channel Gene and Protein Expression by Intervertebral Disc Degeneration and Back Pain." Nature Sci Rep 9. 1 (2019): epub. Web.
Journal Editor
Karin, Wuertz-Kozak,, ed. Musculoskeletal Pain, Frontiers in Pain Research. Lausanne: Frontiers, 2021. Web.
Karin, Wuertz-Kozak,, ed. International Journal of Molecular Science, Section “Molecular Pathology, Diagnostics, and Therapeutics”. Basel, Switzerland: MDPI, 2021. Web.
Karin, Wuertz-Kozak,, ed. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Basel, Switzerland: MDPI, 2020. Web.
Wuertz-Kozak, Karin, ed. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Basel, Switzerland: MDPI, 2019. Web.
Wuertz-Kozak, Karin, ed. Current Opinion in Biomedical Engineering. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier, 2019. Web.
Invited Keynote/Presentation
Wuertz-Kozak, Karin. "Inflammatory Mediators in Disc Degeneration - Are They of Clinical Importance?" Eurospine 2019. EuSSAB. Helsinki, Finnland. 15 Oct. 2019. Keynote Speech.
Wuertz-Kozak, Karin, et al. "Expression of TRPV4 in Human IVDs and its Relevance in Stretch-induced Inflammation." Eurospine 2019. Spine Society of Europe. Helsinki, Finnland. 16 Oct. 2019. Conference Presentation.
Wuertz-Kozak, Karin. "New Horizons in Degenerative Disc Disease." Annual Meeting of the Japanese Orthopaedic Association. Japanese Orthopaedic Association. Yokohama, Japan. 18 Oct. 2019. Keynote Speech.
Wuertz-Kozak, K., et al. "Differential Regulation of TRP Channel Gene Expression by Intervertebral Disc Degeneration and Back Pain." German Spine Society Meeting. German Spine Society. Munich, Germany. 28 Nov. 2019. Conference Presentation.
Herold, Tamara, et al. "Effect of BMI on the Clinical Outcome Following Microsurgical Decompression in Over-the-top Technique: Bi-centric Study with Analysis of 741 Patients." German Spine Society Meeting. German Spine Society. Munich, Germany. 28 Nov. 2019. Conference Presentation.
Quante, Markus, et al. "Effect of Perioperative Complications on the Clinical Outcome Following Lumbar Decompression Surgery." German Spine Society Meeting. German Spine Society. Munich, Germany. 29 Nov. 2019. Conference Presentation.
Peer Reviewed/Juried Poster Presentation or Conference Paper
Sadowska, A., et al. "How do IVD Cells Sense and Respond to Osmotic Stress: The Role of TRPM7 and TRPV4 Channels." Proceedings of the ORS PSRS Meeting. Ed. ORS. Skytop, USA: n.p..

Currently Teaching

3 Credits
This course is intended to provide an overview of materials used in biomedical applications, both internal and external to the human body. The specific objective of this course is to present the principles which apply to the properties and selection of materials used in medical applications. Topics include an introduction to deformable mechanics and viscoelasticity; structure and properties of metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites; fundamental composition of biological tissues; and principles associated with the interaction between biological tissues and artificial materials.
0 Credits
One semester of paid work experience in biomedical engineering.
3 Credits
This course will present the principles and fundamentals of medical device and in vitro diagnostic regulation. The course will cover the history of the FDA and the regulations around food, drug and cosmetic products. An overview of regulatory pathways, clinical trials, good manufacturing practices and quality system design will be covered. Comparisons between US, EU and other international regulatory bodies will also be discussed. The course will culminate with students developing a clinical trial and regulatory strategy for a new hypothetical medical device.
3 Credits
This is a course with lecture and seminar components. The lecture component will provide a state-of-the-art overview of how replacement organs and tissues can be engineered using both natural and synthetic biomaterials as well as chemical and physical cues that direct cellular differentiation and integration. Furthermore, techniques commonly employed in tissue engineering research are discussed. In the seminar component, students will review and present current journal articles and will listen to research talks given by experts in the field of tissue engineering. Scientific interaction with the presenting researchers in the form of Q&A sessions is expected. Additionally, the course will train students in grant proposal writing.
3 Credits
This hands-on course gives engineering students experience with advanced, state of the art production and application of biomaterials, cell culture methods and analysis techniques used in the area of tissue engineering. In this project-based course, students will work on experiments relating to current literature and will learn how to critically analyze and scientifically summarize the obtained results. Students will use their knowledge and experience to finally design and conduct their independent experiment related to broadly defined topics in the area of tissue engineering.
1 - 3 Credits
Allows graduate students an opportunity to independently investigate, under faculty supervision, aspects of the field of biomedical engineering that are not sufficiently covered in existing courses. Proposals for independent study activities must be approved by both the faculty member supervising and the graduate program director.

In the News

  • March 22, 2023

    person holding a microphone giving a presentation.

    RIT honors 14 researchers added to prestigious PI Millionaires group

    RIT faculty members, who led research initiatives as principal investigators, were honored at a reception on March 21 to celebrate the individuals who helped the university reach record awards surpassing $92 million and place among the top private research universities in the country.