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Preethi L.


1011 LK Downing Hall
(202) 806-4595

Faculty Details

Assistant Professor

PhD, 2005, Biomedical Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
B. Tech., 1999, Industrial Biotechnology, ACTech of Anna University, Chennai, India


Computational Bioengineering, Multi-scale Modeling, Biomechanics, Tissue Engineering, DNA Nanoparticles, Polymer and Gel Biophysics


We are interested in the engineering design behind self-assembled nanoscale structures of semiflexible biopolymers (DNA, aggrecan, and collagen, etc), and in using these nanostructures as physical containers for drug delivery and tissue regeneration.
We have developed an integrated approach to study these bioassemblies, from the single-molecule interactions to the group polymer dynamics to the nanomechanics of the final complex. Techniques like Atomic Force Microscopy, Dynamic Light Scattering, and Rheology allow us to interrogate the biomolecule physics at different stages of self-assembly.
We are also engaged in developing a multi-scale modeling theory for semidilute biopolymers. This theory is based on our string-of-continuous-beams polymer model. The theory enables us to model coarse-grain biopolymer self-assembly at reduced cost but with high orders of polymer interaction.

Check out our recent publications:
Chandran PL, Dimitriadis E, Mertz E, and Horkay F. ‘Microscale mapping of matrix elasticity of neonatal mouse joint cartilage; a case study in extracting bulk matrix micromechanics from soft, inhomogeneous matter with surface defects’, Soft Matter, 2018, in press
Abeyratne-Perera HK, Chandran PL., 'Mannose surfaces exhibit self-latching, water-structuring, and resilience to chaotropes: Implications for pathogen virulence', Langmuir, 2017 Aug 17. doi: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.7b01006. [Epub ahead of print]
Janes KA, Chandran PL, Ford RM, Lazzara MJ, Papin JA, Peirce SM, Saucerman JJ, Lauffenburger DA,'An engineering design approach to systems biology',Integr Biol (Camb). 2017 Jul 17;9(7):574-583. doi: 10.1039/c7ib00014f. Review.
Curtis KA, Miller D, Millard P, Basu S, Horkay F, Chandran PL, 'Unusual Salt and pH Induced Changes in Polyethylenimine Solutions', PLoS One. 2016 Sep 29;11(9):e0158147. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0158147. eCollection 2016.

Subjects Taught: 

Chemical Engineering Material Balance
Chemical Engineering Energy Balance
Transport Phenomena
Advanced Transport Phenomena
Introduction to Engineering
Fundamentals of Biomedical Engineering (Biomechanics component)

Detailed Information

About Me: 

Dr. Preethi Chandran obtained her Phd from the University of Minnesota in Biomedical Engineering. She did brief postdoctoral stints at Columbia University, and at the University of California (Berkeley), before a IRTA fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, Maryland. Dr. Chandran is currently Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Howard University, Washington DC. She enjoys pushing and pulling on nanometer-sized assemblies of semiflexible biopolymers like DNA and aggrecan; contemplating on their group dynamics with computational modeling, and in discovering their nano medicine potential.

Appointments and Affiliations
2012 – Present, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, Howard University.
2012 – Director, Biomolecular Assemblies and Nanomechanics Lab, Howard University
2012 – Present, Visiting Scientist, National Institutes of Health.
2009 – 2012, IRTA Fellow, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.
2007 - 2008, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Berkeley, New York, NY.
2005 - 2006, Postdoctoral Fellow, Columbia University, New York, NY.

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions
2014 NSF HU-Advance Mini Grant, 2014 (Role: PI)
2014 NSF HBCU-UP Research Initiation Award, 2014 (Role: PI)
2014 HU Junior Faculty Research Award in the Physical Sciences and Engineering,
2014 Invited speaker, World Biomechanics Conference, 2014
2013 NSF HU-Advance Mini Grant, 2013 (Role: PI)
2012 National Institute of Health Fellows Award for Research Excellence
2011 National Institute of Health NICHD Image Award for Postdoctoral Research
2009– 2012 National Institute of Health Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA)
2001 Best Poster Award for Biomedical Computation, BMEI Meeting, Minneapolis, MN
1999 – 2000 University of Minnesota Graduate School Fellow

Representative Publications
1. Chandran PL, Dimitriadis E, Speransky V, Lisziewicz J, and Horkay F. ‘DNA nanoparticles with Shell Core Structure’, Soft Matter (2014), accepted for publication.
2. Gao Y, Kuang YI, Du X, Zhou J, Chandran P, Horkay F, Xu B.’ Imaging Self-assembly Dependent Spatial Distribution of Small Molecules in Cellular Environment’, Langmuir (2013), 2013, 29 (49), pp 15191–15200
3. Silva C, Horkayne-Szakaly I, Chandran PL, Dimitriadis E, Lin D, Basser PJ, and Horkay F. ‘Depth dependent osmotic swelling properties of cartilage’, Proceedings of the Materials Research Society, (2012).
4. Chandran PL, Dimitriadis E, and Horkay F. ‘Probing structure of DNA nanoparticles with short DNA strands’, . In Gels and Biomedical Materials, Materials Research Society, Volume 1418, 27-33, Cambridge University Press, 2012.
5. Lorincz O, Toke ER, Somogyi E, Horkay F, Chandran PL, Douglas DF and Lisziewicz J, ‘Structure and biological activity of pathogen-like synthetic nanomedicines’, Nanomedicine, 8, (2012), 497-506.
6. Chandran PL, Paik DC, and Holmes JW, ‘Structural mechanism for alteration of collagen gel mechanics by glutaraldehyde crosslinking’, Connective Tissue Research, 53, (2012), 285-97.
7. Chandran PL, and Horkay F, ‘Aggrecan, an unusual polyelectrolyte: the physiological implications’, Acta Biomaterialia, 8, (2011), 3-12. (Editor’s Highlight)
8. Chandran PL, Dimitriadis E, Basser P, and Horkay F, ‘Probing aggrecan interaction with surface using Atomic Force Microscopy’, Journal of Polymer Science, 48 (2010), 2575-2581.
9. Chandran PL, and Mohammad MRK, ‘A rods-on-string idealization captures semi-flexible filament dynamics’, Physical Review E, 79 (2009), 9-16.
10. Chandran PL, Wolf CB, and Mohammad MRK, ‘Band-like stress fiber propagation in a continuum and implications for myosin contractility’. Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, 2 (2009), 13-27.
11. Chandran PL, Stylianopolous T, and Barocas VH, ‘Microstructure based, multiscale modeling for the mechanical behavior of hydrated fiber networks’, Multiscale Modeling & Simulation (SIAM Journal), 7 (2008), 22-43.
12. Chandran PL, and Barocas VH, ‘Deterministic material-based averaging theory model of collagen gel mechanics’, Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, 129 (2007), 137-147.
13. Thomopoulos S, Fomovsky G, Chandran PL, and Holmes JW, ‘Collagen structure does not explain mechanical anisotropy in fibroblast populated collagen gels’, Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, 129 (2007), 642-650.
14. Chandran PL, and Barocas VH, ‘Network vs. affine kinematics in collagen gels - theoretical studies’, Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, 128 (2006), 259-270.
15. Chandran PL, and Barocas VH, ‘Microstructural mechanics of collagen gels in confined compression: poroelasticity, viscoelasticity and collapse’, Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, 126 (2004), 152-166.
16. Chandran PL and Barocas VH. ‘Representative Microstructure Finite Elements for Collagen Gels’, in Solid Mechanics and Applications, IUTAM Symposium on Physicochemical and Electromechanical Interactions in Porous Media. Eds. Gladwell G, Huyghe JM, Raats P, and Cowin S, Springer Netherlands. 125, (2005), 37-42. (Book Chapter)

Recent Conference Presentations
• ‘Squishy DNA nanoparticles’, by Chandran PL, Dimitriadis E and Horkay F. BMES, San Antonia, Oct 2014.
• ‘Aggrecan Interactions and Structure, Implications of the bottlebrush’, PL Chandran, World Biomechanics Congress, Boston, July 2014
• ‘Polyethylenimine: Experimental and simulation study of polymer biophysics during pH buffering’ by Rice BJ, Abdus-Shakur T, Curtis KA, Klauda JB, Venable RM, Pastor RW, and Chandran PL. Meeting of the Biophysical Society, San Francisco, Feb 2014.
• ‘Systematic, high resolution mapping of the elastic modulus of mouse cartilage matrix’ by Chandran PLm Yuan J, Mertze E, Horkay F, and Dimitriadis EK. Meeting of the Biophysical Society, San Francisco, Feb 2014.
• ‘DNA Nanoparticles – structure, assembly and mechanics’ by Chandran PL, Dimitriadis E and Horkay F. AIChe, Minneapolis, MN, Oct 2011. (talk)
• ‘Achieving physical accuracy with computational efficiency: Modeling the rheology of semiflexible filaments with rods-on-string idealization and implicit hydrodynamics’ by Chandran PL. Society of Engineering Sciences, Evanston, IL, Oct 2011. (talk)
• ‘Structure of DNA nanoparticles condensed with PEIm’ by Chandran PL, Dimitriadis E and Horkay F. American Physical Society, Dallas, TX, Mar 2011. (talk)
• ‘Probing interactions between aggrecan and mica surface by atomic force microscopy’ by Chandran PL, Dimitriadis E and Horkay F. Biophysical Society, Baltimore, MD, Mar 2011.
• ‘Novel DNA networks formed on mica surface by condensation with spermidine’ by Chandran PL, Dimitriadis E and Horkay F. Biophysical Society, Baltimore, MD, Mar 2011.
• ‘Load bearing capacity of cartilage: Ionic Interactions’ by Geria H, Pettigrew R, Papanicolas P, Horkayne-Szakaly I, Silva C, Chandran PL, Basser PJ, Dimitriadis E and Horkay F. American Chemical Society, Anaheim, CA, Mar 2011.
• ‘Surface imaging of aggrecan interactions’ by Chandran PL, Dimitriadis E and Horkay F. American Physical Society, Portland, OR, Mar 2010.
• ‘Semiflexible filament and hydrodynamics behavior’ by Chandran PL, and Mofrad MRK. Society of Rheology, Madison, WI, Oct 2009. (talk)
• ‘Hydrodynamic behavior of semiflexible filaments’ by Chandran PL, and Mofrad MRK. ASME Summer Bioengineering Meeting, Lake Tahoe, CA, June 2009. (talk)
• ‘Re-formulation of langevin dynamics for semiflexible rods and application to actin filament dynamics’ by Chandran PL, and Mohammad MRK. Biophysical Society Meeting, Long Beach, CA, Feb 2008.
• ‘Continuum-scale modeling of stress fibers requires accounting for condensation forces’ by Chandran PL, Kim D, and Mohammad MRK. Biophysical Society Meeting, Long Beach, CA, Feb 2008.


Assistant Professor Patrick Ymele-Leki Mentors Postdoctoral Researcher and 2018 Research Week Winner

Fri, April 20, 2018

Chemical Engineering postdoctoral researcher Jyothirmai Simhadri was announced as the Post Doc/Resident/Fellow/Research Associate winner in the Physical Sciences and Engineering category for her research submission titled: Development of Shewanella Oneidensis MR-1 Biofilms for Iodate Reduction in Groundwater. Read More >>

Howard, Bajracharya & Shakya Win 2017 ExxonMobil/AIChE-NCS Award

Tue, April 3, 2018

Seniors April Howard, Diwash Bajracharya, and Preety Shakya (pictured left to right) were the 2017 recipients of the ExxonMobil/AIChE-NCS Award.Read More >>


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