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Dr. Utkan Demirci

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Dr. Utkan Demirci, PhD

Interim Division Chief and Director, Stanford Canary Center for Early Cancer Detection
Professor with tenure

Radiology Department
Electrical Engineering (by Courtesy)
Stanford University
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Degrees and Training

  • B.S. Electrical Engineering, University of Michigan, Summa Cum Laude, Ann Arbor, 1999​
  • M.S. Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, 2001
  • M.S. Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University, 2005
  • Ph.D. Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, 2005
  • Harvard Business School Executive Training Program, Leadership Program, 2009


Dr. Utkan Demirci is a professor with tenure at Stanford University School of Medicine and serves as the interim director and division chief at the Canary Center for Cancer Early Detection in the Department of Radiology. He also was a faculty member earlier at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School at the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology division prior to his appointment at Stanford. His group is focused on the development of point-of-care technologies and creating microfluidic platforms for sorting rare cells and exosomes for infectious diseases and cancer. Dr. Demirci is a fellow-elect of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, elected in 2017. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in Electrical Engineering in 2005 as well as M.S. degrees in 2001 in Electrical Engineering, and in Management Science and Engineering in 2005. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles, 300 abstracts and proceedings, 24 book chapters and editorials, four edited books, over 25 patents pending or granted, and serves as an editorial board member for various peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Demirci’s seminal work in microfluidics has led to the development of innovative platform technologies in medicine. His inventions have been licensed to numerous companies. He has co-founded several startups and serves as an advisor and/or board member to multiple companies including DxNow, Zymot, LevitasBio, Mercury Biosciences, and Koek Biotech. He has translated several FDA-approved and CE-marked technologies.

Prof. Demirci is the past-chair and member of the executive board for the International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED), which is a new £55M partnership between Cancer Research UK, the Canary Center at Stanford University, the University of Cambridge, the Knight Cancer Institute at OHSU, University College London and the University of Manchester. At the ACED, we are uniting world leading researchers to tackle the biggest challenges in early detection, an important area of unmet clinical need. Over the coming 5 years, we will fund up to 50M USD to support novel science on early cancer research across the Atlantic and in the USA. Over 100 PIs and scientists in the ACED umbrella are working together at the forefront of technological innovation to translate research into realistic ways to improve cancer diagnosis, which can be implemented into health systems and meaningfully benefit patients with cancer. Further, I direct the Canary Center at Stanford for Early Cancer Detection leading 7 main faculty, 33 adjunct faculty and many scientists with equipment available to us purchased with philanthropic funds that is open to use of researchers across the Stanford Campus and other universities to advance science in cancer.

Our Lab's Focus Areas

Demirci Lab’s work focuses on developing innovative point-of-care technologies and creating microfluidic platforms for cancer with broad applications to multiple diseases. Micro- and nano-scale technologies can have a significant impact on medicine and biology in the areas of cell manipulation, diagnostics, and monitoring. At the convergence of these new technologies and biology, Dr. Demirci’s works for enabling solutions to real-world problems at the clinic. Emerging nanoscale and microfluidic technologies integrated with biology offer innovative possibilities for creating intelligent, mobile medical lab-chip devices that could transform diagnostics and monitoring, micro-robotics, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine. Some of these innovative microfluidic devices have been translated into FDA-approved and CE-marked products, where they have been widely used by fertility clinics around the world to serve patients, leading to estimated thousands of live births globally.

Our laboratory specializes in biomedical science to create micro- and nano-scale technologies to solve real world problems in medicine. His lab’s focus is on early detection of diseases to enable innovative diagnostic tools. Our work has led to multiple pioneering microfluidic platform technologies with impact on various biomedical engineering fields including global health, diagnostics, in vitro fertilization (IVF), biofabrication, space biomanufacturing and cell sorting with broad clinical applications. Our lab’s work has led to innovative platform technologies with seminal and translated contributions in bioengineering with real world impact at the clinic. More specifically, in cancer, our efforts led to the ExoTIC (Exosome Total Isolation Chip) device that reliably isolates exosomes with high efficiency from multiple complex matrices including urine, plasma, and saliva of multiple cancer types.

In HIV-1 point-of-care (POC) diagnostics, our lab developed technologies to bind and detect intact viruses on microfluidic systems. We developed a portable biosensor for monitoring HIV infected CD4+ T cells rapidly at the point-of-care, and for the first time successfully tested it in Tanzania. We published the first portable microfluidic viral load quantification assays. His lab received the very first RO1 award from NIH that was aimed to detect intact HIV virions using point-of-care technologies for resource-limited settings. In POC technologies for End Stage Renal Disease, we developed lensless imaging technologies that are patented and translated for detecting infections early at home settings at the comfort of patients.  In fertility, we created and successfully translated FDA-approved microfluidic technologies for sperm selection for IVF resulting estimated over ~100,000 live births in the US, Europe, Japan, Africa and globally. In 3-D bioprinting and biofabrication, our lab published some of the seminal papers establishing the pillars of this field. We introduced the seminal concept of 3-D acoustic cell printing over a decade ago. Recently, we published the first ever 3-D bioprinting in space, forming and assembling 3-D tissue organoids at the International Space Station marking a small step in our technology development but a significant step in human exploration of outer space as the first proof-of-principle of space biomanufacturing. In microrobotics, we built soft and hard microrobots that can move under various stimuli, such as acoustic or magnetic fields.