pymeleleki's picture


LK Downing Hall, Rm 2011
(202) 806-4811

Faculty Details

Chair and Professor

University of Maryland Baltimore County, Chemical Engineering, PhD, 2009
University of Maryland Baltimore County, Chemical Engineering, BS (Summa Cum Laude), 2003
Montgomery College, Chemical Engineering, AS (With Honors), 2001
Faculté Libre de Sciences, Life and Earth Sciences, AS, 1998


Bacterial adhesion, microfluidic systems, biofilm engineering, infectious diseases, drug discovery, high/low throughput screening


Our long-term goal is to enhance current antimicrobial arsenal and further understanding of complex microbial communities.

Our research program focuses on (i) the development and implementation of high‐ and low- throughput screening assays for the identification of novel small molecules with antimicrobial activity, (ii) the development and characterization of physiologically and industrially relevant multispecies in vitro biofilm models for the identification of potential drug targets, and (iii) the in vivo assessment of cytotoxicity and pharmacokinetics parameters and hypothesis‐driven validation of antimicrobial drug targets for site colonization related to biofilm formation. This approach combines the benefits of physiologically and industrially relevant assays with a target validation approach superior to that typically encountered for either drug discovery screening or biofilm resistance studies.

Current work and collaborative research projects include (i) the investigation of the impact of biofilm structural features (i.e., porosity, diffusional distance, biomass, and biovolume) and physical fluid forces on the efficacy of known antimicrobial agents; (ii) the evaluation of potential antimicrobial challenge mechanisms as a strategy for in situ biofilm control; and (iii) the identification of novel chemical probes and microbial targets and development of novel drug delivery strategies in biofilm settings. Further details are available on our laboratory website

These studies have applications in medical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnological sciences.

Subjects Taught: 

Introduction to Biomedical Engineering
Introduction to Engineering Design
Advanced Thermodynamics
Chemical Engineering Laboratory
Independent Study in Chemical Engineering
Heat Transfer
Fluid Mechanics

Detailed Information

About Me: 

Appointments and Affiliations
2012-Present Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, Howard University
2009 Lecturer, Chemical Engineering, University of Maryland Baltimore County
2003-2005 Teaching Assistant, Chemical Engineering, University of Maryland Baltimore County

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions
2014 2014 Provost Research Resources and Small Equipment Award
2006 Center of Biofilm Engineering Summer School Scholarship (MSU)
2004 Grosvenor Inc. Graduate Fellowship (UMBC)
2003 Outstanding Senior in Chemical Engineering (UMBC)
2003 UMBC Alumni Outstanding Student Award
2003 Local Chapter AIChE Award for Undergraduate Talk
2001 United States Achievement Academy (USAA) National Award (MC)
2001 Paul Peck Humanities Internship Award (MC)
2001 Recognition for Academic Excellence in Honors Curricula (MC)
2000, 2001 Dr. Harry Harden, Jr. Black & African American Academic Awards (MC)
2000, 2001 The R.B. Woodward Memorial Organic Chemistry Award (MC)
1999-2001 Dean’s list at Montgomery College (MC, all semesters)

Paula I. Watnick, Patrick Ymele-Leki, Jon Clardy, Shugeng Cao. Natural Product Antibiotics and Analogs Thereof. U. S. Patent. 9,359,275. [Link]

Representative Publications
1. Stanley S, P Ymele-Leki. Introducing High School Students to Chemical Engineering Kinetics With a Simple Experiment-Based Smartphone Education Application. Chemical Engineering Education. 2017 Fall; 51(4): 189-197. [Link]

2. Fennell Y, P Ymele-Leki, TA Adegboye, KL Jones. Impact of sulfidation of silver nanoparticles on established P. aeruginosa biofilms. J Biomaterials and Nanobiotechnology. 2017 Jan;8(1):83-95. [Open Access]

3. Ymele-Leki P, L Houot, PI Watnick. Mannitol and the mannitol-specific enzyme IIB subunit activate Vibrio cholerae biofilm formation. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Aug;79(15):4675-83. [PMID: 23728818]

4 . Absalon C, P Ymele-Leki, PI Watnick. The bacterial biofilm matrix as a platform for antigen presentation and enzyme delivery. MBio. 2012 Jul 17;3(4):e00127-12. [PMID: 22807566]

5. Py BF, SF Gonzalez, K Long, MS Kim, YA Kim, H Zhu, J Yao, N Degauque, R Villet, P Ymele-Leki, M Gadjeva, GB Pier, MC Carroll, J Yuan. Cochlin produced by follicular dendritic cells promotes antibacterial innate immunity. Immunity. 2013 May 23;38(5):1063-72. [PMID: 23684986]

6. Ymele-Leki P, S Cao, J Sharp, K Lambert, A McAdam, R Husson, G Tamayo, J Clardy, PI Watnick. A high-throughput screen identifies a new natural product with broad-spectrum antibacterial activity. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(2):e31307. [PMID: 22359585]

7. Acosta MA, P Ymele-Leki, Y Kostov, JB Leach (2009). Fluorescent microparticles for sensing cell microenvironment oxygen levels within 3D scaffolds. Biomaterials, 30(17):3068-74. [PMID: 19285719]

8. George NPE, P Ymele-Leki, K Konstantopoulos, JM Ross (2009). Differential binding of biofilm-derived versus suspension grown Staphylococcus aureus to immobilized platelets in shear flow. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 199(5):633-40. [PMID: 19210161]

9. Ymele-Leki P, JM Ross (2007). Erosion from Staphylococcus aureus biofilms grown under physiologically relevant fluid shear forces yields bacterial cells with reduced avidity to collagen. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 73(6): 1834-1841. [PMID: 17277217]

10. Mascari L, P Ymele-Leki, CD Eggleton, P Speziale, JM Ross (2003). Fluid shear contributions to bacteria cell detachment initiated by a monoclonal antibody. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 83(1): 65-74. [PMID: 12740934]


Associate Professor Preethi Chandran Awarded $500K NSF Grant for Biological Research

Tue, September 29, 2020

Chemical Engineering Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies Preethi Chandran, Ph.D., received a $500K grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Excellence in Research (EiR) program to study the biophysics of the shield of sugars (glycans) that typically covers pathogens.Read More >>

Associate Professor Preethi Chandran Partners with Heart of Tabitha Foundation on STEM and College Readiness Workshop

Fri, September 11, 2020

The Heart of Tabitha Foundation partnered with Howard University Chemical Engineering Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies Preethi Chandran, Ph.D., and Catholic University Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Otto Wilson, Ph.D., to continue offering its annual summer workshop for local high school students in a virtual setting. The workshop focused on college readiness and STEM careers and featured speakers from several professions. Read More >>


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