Urs Utzinger, PhD

Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Associate Department Head, Undergraduate Affairs
Associate Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Associate Professor, BIO5 Institute
Associate Professor, Optical Sciences
Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering - GIDP
Phone Number: 
(520) 975-0522

UACC Information

UACC Organizational Unit(s): 
Professional Bio: 

Urs Utzinger, PhD, is department head of Biomedical Engineering, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Electrical and Computer Engineering, BIO5 Institute, and Optical Sciences.

Dr. Utzinger is internationally renowned for his work in optical spectroscopy, fiber optic sensing and microscopy. He has developed clinical instruments for detection of cervical, ovarian and gastrointestinal cancer. He also studies cellular migration during angiogenesis using intravital imaging techniques.

He has published over 60 original research papers, 6 of them with more than 100 citations. Many papers were a result of collaborations with physicians and with researchers at multiple institutions. He has authored 3 book chapters and holds 7 issued patents in the field of optical diagnostics. Dr. Utzinger and members of his laboratory frequently present at international bio-photonics meetings. He is a member of the optical society of America and SPIE.

In his research Dr. Utzinger has studied the spectral signature of light reemitted from tissue and its components for diagnostic purposes. He has conducted clinical studies on the cervix, with patients undergoing oophorectomy and patients having gastro intestinal procedures. In his laboratory he studies living tissue culture systems with time series and label free imaging. With colleagues he has developed microscopic imaging procedures allowing studying the deformation of the extracellular matrix under tension.

As instructor he teaches graduate classes in Biomedical Instrumentation and Biomedical Optics. He introduces engineering undergraduate students into the clinical practice by providing them with experiences in physician’s clinics and university hospital environment.

He currently serves as department head in Biomedical Engineering, which is a growing program of more than 160 undergraduate students. He also reviews small business proposals and other research projects for the National Institutes of Health.

Research Information

Research Program: 
Cancer Imaging
Research Focus: 

Dr. Utzinger’s lab is developing imaging technology that may one day replace surgical biopsies as a means of diagnosing cancer and other cell abnormalities.  He is an expert on the growth behaviors of ovarian cancer tissue and hopes to use less-invasive optical technology to make an early, accurate diagnosis and to solve the mysteries about its growth by photographing it in living tissue biopsies.  Dr. Utzinger and his team are creating prototypes of devices that can photograph cells as small as 20 microns across, a fraction of a human hair.

Dr. Utzinger collaborates with researchers across the campus and around the world in biomedical engineering, in obstetrics and gynecology in the College of Medicine, in electrical and computer engineering and optical sciences.  He has published widely in the fields of spectroscopy and multispectral digital imaging and holds a series of patents in those fields with his collaborators.

Academic Information

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich (Switzerland)
Master's Degree: 
MS, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich (Switzerland)