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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


Mechanics and transport phenomena in Glycobiology, Computational Bioengineering, Multi-scale Modeling, Biomechanics, Tissue Engineering, DNA Nanoparticles, Polymer and Gel Biophysics


The Biomolecular Assemblies and Nanomechanics (BAN) Laboratory is 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 are particularly interested in how oligosaccharides change the interfacial dynamics of surfaces and macromolecules, and redirect self-assembly and biological interactions. Research efforts have resulted in the development of 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 the investigation of the biomolecule physics at different stages of self-assembly. The lab is also engaged in developing a multi-scale modeling theory for semi-dilute biopolymers. This theory is based on our string-of-continuous-beams polymer model. The theory makes it possible to model coarse-grain biopolymer self-assembly at reduced cost but with high orders of polymer interactions.

Specific Research Interests:
1. Including sugar physics in interfacial, mechanics, and self-assembly problems
2. Role of glycan shield in immune health and virus stealth.
3. Modeling mechanics of filamentous architectures with high fidelity to bending mechanics, hydrodynamic and charge interactions at the single filament scale, for application in structural design to biological and polymer networks.
4. Inverted-virus platform for co-delivering macromolecules in DNA shells.

Technical expertise in the lab:
Integrated use of AFM imaging, Force Spectroscopy, Dynamic Light Scattering, Rheology, Osmometry, Coarse-grain Simulation, and in-house Analysis Software to probe a research problem.

Analysis and computational techniques developed in the lab:
1. Matlab software for extracting elasticity of material with rough or collapsed surface using a floating contact-point.
2. Matlab software for obtaining average adhesion force, energy, etc. from AFM force curves.
3. Matlab software for determining dynamic rearrangements driven by an interplay of 3D nonlinear bending, hydrodynamic drag, hydrodynamic-interaction, and Brownian forces in fibrous media.

Refereed Publications:
1. Abeyratne-Perera H, Ogharandukun E, Chandran PL, HIV Pseudovirus glycan shield exhibits long-range sialic and short-range mannose self-interactions, Soft Matter (2019), in press
2. Simhadhri J, Chandran PL, ‘Capturing 3D large-strain Euler-bending filament dynamics in fibrous media simulations; sample case of compression collapse in dendritic actin network’, Scientific Reports (2019), DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-40430-y
3. Basu S, Venable R, Rice B, Ogarandunkun E, Klauda J, Pastor R, Chandran PL, ‘Mannobiose-grafting shifts PEI charge and biphasic transition in PEI dynamics’, Macromolecular Physics and Chemistry, (2019), 3, 1800423. https://doi.org/10.1002/macp.201800423
4. 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), 4, 2879-2892.
5. Abeyratne-Perera and Chandran PL, ‘Mannose layers exhibit self-adhesion, water-sorting, and chaotrope properties; implications for pathogen virulence’, Langmuir (2017), 36, 9178-9189
6. Janes K, Chandran PL, Ford RM, Lazzara MJ, Papin JA, Pierce SM, Saucerman JJ, Lauffenburger D, ‘Engineering approach to systems biology’, Integr. Biol., 2017,9, 574-583
7. Curtis K, Miller D, Millard P, Basu S, Horkay F, Chandran PL. ‘Unusual Salt and pH Induced Changes in Polyethylenimine Solutions’, PLOS One, (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0158147
8. Chandran PL, Dimitriadis E, Speransky V, Lisziewicz J, and Horkay F. ‘DNA nanoparticles with Shell Core Structure’, Soft Matter, 2014,10, 7653-7660
9. 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), 29 (49), 15191–15200
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. Chandran PL, and Horkay F, ‘Aggrecan, an unusual polyelectrolyte: the physiological implications’, Acta Biomaterialia, 8, (2011), 3-12. (Editor’s Highlight)
13. 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
14. Chandran PL, and Mohammad MRK, ‘Averaged implicit hydrodynamic model of semiflexible filaments’. Physical Review E, 81 (2010), 031920 1-17
15. Chandran PL, and Mohammad MRK, ‘A rods-on-string idealization captures semi-flexible filament dynamics’, Physical Review E, 79 (2009), 9-16
16. 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
17. 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
18. Chandran PL, and Barocas VH, ‘Deterministic material-based averaging theory model of collagen gel mechanics’, Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, 129 (2007), 137-147
19. 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
20. Chandran PL, and Barocas VH, ‘Network vs. affine kinematics in collagen gels - theoretical studies’, Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, 128 (2006), 259-270
21. 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

Book Chapters:

1. Chandran PL, Dimitriadis E, Basser P; Horkay F. 'A nanoindentation approach to assess the mechanical properties of heterogeneous biological tissues with poorly defined surface characteristics', Gels and Other Soft Amorphous Solid, ACS Symposium Series, Eds, Horkay F, Douglas J, Del Gado E, DOI: 10.1021/bk-2018-1296.pr001
2. 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.

Recent lab news:
--> Mr. Eric Ogarandunkun defends Masters thesis in Apr 2019. Congratulations!!
--> Dr. Hashanthi Perera start a new phase in her career as a ASEE postdoctoral fellow at the Naval Research Academy. We wish you the best!
--> Mr. Eric Ogarandunkun, graduate student of Dr. Chandran, wins Just Julian Award for 2018-2019 academic year. Congratulations Eric!
--> Dr. Chandran gets Provost Office Small Instrumentation Award. Hello rheometer!
--> Dr. Chandran's graduate student Ms. Hashanthi Perera defend PhD Thesis on May 1st 2018! The thesis title is 'Biophysical properties of mannose-rich surfaces; Implications for biological and bioengineered systems'. Congratulations Dr. Abeyratne-Perera!!
--> Graduate Student Eric Ogarandunkun (Adviser: Dr. Chandran) is selected to present at the 15th Annual Yale Bouchet Conference on Diversity and Education on April 2018. The poster title is 'Self-interactions of a virus glycan shield'.
--> March 2018: The OXE Chemical Engineering Honor Society engages HU MS2 middles school Honor students in module on Hurricane Science. The module involved hands-on activities on the physical principles that determine hurricane formation. Chemical Engineering meets Meteorology!
--> Nov 2018: The OXE Chemical Engineering Honor Society engages HU MS2 middles school Honor students in module on The Science and Engineering of Baking Cookies. The module involved testing viscoelasticity of dough prepared at different water:flour ratio. Tasty science!!
--> Dr. Chandran's postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Saswati Basu, wins a travel award for Overall Postdoctoral Research at the HU Research Festival 2017 for poster on 'Effect of oligosaccharides on the dynamics of polyethylenimine'. Congratulations Dr. Basu!
--> Dr. Chandran's postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Jyothirmai Simhadhri, wins Postdoctoral Research Award in the Physical Sciences and Engineering category at the HU Research Festival 2017 for poster on 'Nonlinear 3D bending mechanics of semiflexible filaments'. Congratulations Dr. Simhadhri!
--> Graduate student Ms. Hashanthi Perera (mentor: Dr. Chandran) gives podium presentation on 'Mannosylated surfaces exhibit self-latching, water-structuring and chaotrope independent properties: Implications for pathogen virulence' at American Chemical Society, Annual meeting 2017, Washington DC, 2017.
--> Graduate student Ms. Hashanthi Perera (mentor: Dr. Chandran) receives Nandedkhar award for excellence in research by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2017. Congratulations Ms. Perera!
--> Graduate student Ms. Hashanthi Perera (mentor: Dr. Chandran) receives 2016 Dissertation Award from Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Congratulations!

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
2016 - Present, Director of Graduate Studies, Chemical Engineering
2016 - Present, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (WOC)
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.


Thomas Brings Home a Win from 2018 Annual AIChE Meeting

Mon, December 10, 2018

Chemical Engineering Junior Jamaka Thomas won second place in the Food, Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology category at the 2018 Annual AIChE Meeting for her research submission titled: “Enrichment of Oat Protein by Means of Gravity and Electrostatic Forces.” Thomas co-authored her submission with Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Dinara Konakbayeva.Read More >>

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 >>


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