Dr. Wertz joined The University of Iowa College of Dentistry in 1990. He is a professor in the Department of Oral Pathology, Radiology, and Medicine and also the UI Institute for Dental Research.
Dr. Wertz serves as an undergraduate student research mentor. He directs the graduate dental science research methodology course and also the research seminar series, teaches graduate pathophysiology classes, and is a problem-based learning facilitator for D1 and D2 students.
Dr. Wertz's research focuses on the structures, functions, and metabolism of the lipids of skin and oral epithelium. He has examined the mechanisms by which lipids contribute to the barrier function of skin and oral mucosa, and the relationship of skin and oral mucosa barrier function to transcutaneous delivery of medication. His studies have also included the biochemistry of carcinogensis; essential fatty acids; compositions and structures of lipids of oral mucosa; metabolism of sphingosine and sphingolipids; comparative enzymology of skin and oral epithelium; the chemical synthesis of ceramide analogues; antimicrobial properties of lipids; and the preparation of liposomes for use in drug delivery systems.
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Dr. Wertz is reviewer for Biochimica et Biophysica Acta; Journal of Clinical Investigation; Canadian Journal of Microbiology; Chemistry and Physics of Lipids; Journal of Investigative Dermatology; Journal of Lipid Research; Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry; and Lipids. He is past secretary/treasurer of the Iowa chapter of the AADR (1992-93); current congressional correspondent for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; member of the American and International Associations for Dental Research, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Oil Chemists Society, the Society for Investigative Dermatology, the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS), the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, and the Controlled Release Society. Dr. Wertz is also on the editorial board of International Journal of Cosmetic Science and is the chair-elect of the Dermatopharmaceutics Focus Group of the AAPS.