Santa Clara University


Dr. Prashanth Asuri

Phone: 408-551-3005
Fax: 408-554-5474
Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering

Dr. Prashanth Asuri joined the Bioengineering faculty at Santa Clara University in Fall 2011. Dr. Asuri earned his Ph.D in Chemical and Biological Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where his research primarily focused on engineering protein function and stability through control of its nanoscale environment. After graduation, he served as a research scientist at Solidus Biosciences for two years, where he developed high-throughput predictive cell based assays for facilitating the metabolic toxicity analysis of drug candidates. Dr. Asuri also spent two years, from 2009-2011, as a postdoctoral researcher at University of California, Berkeley, where he applied biomolecular and material approaches to obtain a better understanding of mechanisms and conditions underlying the neuronal differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells.


Undergraduate Courses
Introduction to Bioengineering (BIOE 10)
Introduction to Tissue Engineering (BIOE 172)

Graduate Courses
Introduction to Nanobioengineering (BIOE 256)
Stem Cell Bioengineering (BIOE 269)


Current Research Interests
Our lab interests are interdisciplinary in nature, integrating tools and concepts from biomaterials engineering, biotechnology, and cell biology. Our current efforts focus on the use of hydrogel biomaterials to develop in vitro platforms that mimic in vivo conditions to explore the role of biophysical cues on controlling protein structure and function and regulating cell fate. We are also interested in the design and development of hydrogel nanocomposites for applications in tissue engineering.

Lab Members
Graduate students: Nasim Hadiashar, Jeffrey Kunkel, Amy Sun, Josergio Zaragoza
Undergraduate students: Andrew Chang, Sabrina Cismas, Scott Fukuoka, Steven Long, Carlos Medina, Victor O'Brien, Sonette Steczina
: Matthew Blanco (SCU), Smritee Dadhwal (VA Palo Alto), Jared Hara (UH), Cade Ito (UNC Chapel Hill), Kalpith Ramamoorthi (Life Technologies), Mark-Phillip Pebworth (UCSF)

Recent Lab News
  • Smritee's, Carlos's, and Sonette's paper describing the roles of 3D matrix properties on cell responses to cytotoxins was accepted for publication in Biotechnology and Bioengineering (2015).
  • Josergio's, Nasim's, Victor's, Andrew's, and Matt's paper describing the effects of nanoparticles on hydrogel mechanical and thermal properties was accepted for publication in PLOS One (2015).
  • Kalpith's and Jared's paper describing the development of 3D stem cell culture platforms for toxicity studies was accepted for publication in AIChE Journal (2015).
  • Dr. Asuri won second place in the KEEN 2015 Winter Conference poster session: Bioengineering design and innovation: teaching an entrepreneurial mindset to undergraduate bioengineers.
  • Mark-Phillip's and Sabrina's paper investigating the role of stiffness gradients on adhesion-independent cell migration was accepted for publication in PLOS One (2014).
  • Jeffrey's paper demonstrating the dependence of protein structure and function on the degree of confinement was accepted for publication in PLOS One (2014).
  • Josergio was featured on MRS TV for his poster on the effect of nanoparticles on mechanical properties of hydrogels at the 2013 MRS Spring Meeting held at San Fransisco, CA.

Awards & Affiliations

  • Founders Award of Excellence, RPI - recognizing the top 1% of the institution.
  • Howard P. Isermann Graduate Fellowship, RPI.
  • Member of Editorial Board - World Journal of Stem Cells, Journal of Biomedical and Bioengineering, ACS Best of BIOT.
  • Reviewer - Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering Journal, Langmuir.

Selected Publications

  • A novel 2.5D culture platform to investigate the role of stiffness gradients on adhesion-independent cell migration, PLOS One, 9, e110453 (2014).
  • Role of three-dimensional matrix stiffness in regulating the response of human neural cells to toxins, Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, 7, 278-284 (2014).
  • Function, structure, and stability of enzymes confined in agarose gels, PLOS One, 9, e86785 (2014).
  • Soft microenvironments promote the early neurogenic differentiation but not self-renewal of human pluripotent stem cells, Integrative Biology, 4, 1049-1058 (2012).
  • Directed evolution of adeno-associated virus for enhanced gene delivery and gene targeting in human pluripotent stem cells, Molecular Therapy, 20, 329-338 (2012).
  • An evolved adeno-associated viral variant enhances gene delivery and gene targeting in neural stem cells, Molecular Therapy, 19, 667-675 (2011).
  • Polymer-nanotube-enzyme composites as active antifoulding films, Small, 3, 50-53 (2007).
  • Protein directed formation of silver nanoparticles on carbon nanotubes, Advanced Materials, 19, 3167-3170 (2007).
  • Nanotube-enzyme conjugates in room temperature ionic liquids, Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, 143, 153-164 (2007).
  • Directed assembly of carbon nanotubes at liquid-liquid interfaces, Journal of the American Chemical Society, 128, 1046-1047 (2006).
  • Increasing protein stability through control of the nanoscale environment, Langmuir, 22, 5833-5836 (2006).

Reviews, Books, and Book Chapters

  • Advances in homology directed genetic engineering of human pluripotent stem cells (Invited Review), World Journal of Stem Cells, 5, 98-105 (2013).
  • Developments in Biotechnology and Bioprocessing, American Chemical Society Symposium Series, Volume 1125 (2013).
  • Delivery of therapeutics using carbon nanomaterials (Invited Book Chapter), Applications of Nanomaterials, American Scientific Publishers (2013).
  • Biomolecule-nanomaterial interactions: Effect on biomolecule structure, function, and stability, Biological Interactions on Nanomaterial Surfaces, Springer, 97-114 (2009).
  • Preparation and characterization of carbon nanotube-protein conjugates, Methods in Bioengineering, Artech House, 1-23 (2009).
  • Protein-carbon nanotube conjugates, ACS Symposium Series, 986, 100-115 (2008).
  • The protein-nanomaterial interface, Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 17, 562-568 (2006).

Selected Conference Presentations

  • Role of 3D matrix stiffness and cell-matrix interactions in regulating the response of human cancer cells to cytotoxic compounds, AIChE Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, November 2014.
  • Elucidating mechanisms behind cell migration at polystyrene-hydrogel interfaces, CMBE Conference, La Jolla, CA, January 2014.
  • Fundamentals and applications of nanomaterial-biomolecule interactions, AIChE Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, November 2013. (Invited talk)
  • Investigating the relationships between mechanical and thermal properties of hydrogel nanocomposites, MRS Spring Meeting, San Francisco, CA, April 2013.
  • AAV-mediated gene delivery and gene targeting in human embryonic stem cells, ASGCT Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA, May 2011.
  • Microarray biochips for high-throughput metabolic toxicity assessment of drugs, ACS National Meeting, Washington, DC, August 2009.
  • Miniaturized three-dimensional cell culture and metabolic enzyme arrays for high-throughput toxicity assays, Forinvitox Forum Event, Sweden, May 2009.
  • Structure, function, and stability of enzymes covalently attached to oxidized carbon nanotubes, AICHE Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, November 2008.
  • Enzyme-nanomaterial conjugates: Opportunities for functionally organized materials, 12th Mexican Biotechnology and Bioengineering Meeting, Mexico, June 2007.
  • Biologically-enabled and inspired design of hierarchically-organized functional and responsive materials, ACS National Meeting, Washington, D.C., August 2005.