Devika Chithrani

Devika Chithrani
Assistant Professor
University of Victoria

PhD (U of T)

Office: Elliott 107, University of Victoria

Overview of research

Medical physics, synthesis and characterization of nanoparticles, development of nanoparticle based systems for multimodal imaging and therapeutics, nanoparticle based radiosensitizers, drug delivery, intracellular fate of nanoparticles.

Nuclear Targeting of Gold Nanoparticles for Improved Therapeutics

Research projects

Nanotechnology involves creation and utilization of materials, devices or systems on the nanometer scale. The field of nanotechnology is currently undergoing explosive development on many fronts. Among other fields, nanotechnology is expected to generate innovations and play a critical role in the field of medicine. There has been tremendous progress made in the use of polymer and lipid based nanoparticles (NPs) for drug delivery and imaging. Recently, more attention has been given to incorporating inorganic NPs such as gold and magnetic NPs with both imaging and therapeutic capabilities into polymer and lipid based NPs for improved therapy and imaging in cancer treatment.

In addition, this emerging field of nanomedicine requires better understanding of the interface between nanotechnology and medicine. My research program is designed to improve the understanding of the bio-nano interface. Better knowledge of the nano-bio interface would lead to better tools for diagnostic imaging and therapy. As a step forward in this direction, gold nanoparticles are being used as a model platform for understanding how size, shape, and surface properties of nanoparticles (NPs) affect their intracellular fate. These fundamental studies will facilitate building of better NP-based platforms for improved results in the future cancer care of patients.

In treating cancer, radiation therapy and chemotherapy remain as the most widely used treatment options. Recent developments in cancer research show that the incorporation of gold nanostructures into those protocols have enhanced tumor cell damage. These nanostructures further provide strategies for improving loading, targeting, and controlling the release of drugs to minimize the side effects of highly toxic anticancer drugs used in chemotherapy and photodynamic therapy. In addition, the heat generation capability of gold nanostructures upon exposure to UV or near infrared is being used to damage tumor cells locally in photothermal therapy. My research program also involves the use of gold nanostructures as a versatile platform for integration of many therapeutic options towards optimizing combinational therapy platform in the battle against cancer. However, these platforms are still at the initial stage of development and much more research is required before they can be applied in clinical applications.


2018-2019 Academic year:

PHYS 120 (Physics I; Fall) & P280 (Special topics in Physics; Spring)

Graduate students


  • Kristy Rieck (MSc)
  • Aaron Bannister (MSc)
  • Kyle Bromma (MSc)


  • Celina Yang (PhD)
  • Darren Yohan (MSc)
  • Charmainne Cruje (MSc)
  • Mehrnoosh Neshatian (MSc)
  • Kyle Bromma (NSERC USRA summer student)
  • Sarah Eaton (NSERC USRA summer student)
  • Kyle Bromma (Honors thesis)
  • Sarah Eaton (Honors thesis)
  • Ashley Singh (Honors thesis)
  • Rawan Ibrahem (Honors thesis)
  • Qingmiao Ran (Honors thesis)
  • Natasha Hegarty (Honors thesis)

Select publications

  • Yang, C., Bromma, K., Sung, W., Schuemann, J., and B.D. Chithrani, 2018. Determining the radiation enhancement effects of gold nanoparticles in cells in a combined treatment with cisplatin and radiation at therapeutic megavoltage energies, Cancers. 10, 150.
  •  Yang, C., A, K. Bromma and B.D. Chithrani, 2018. Petide mediated in vivo tumor targeting of gold nanoparticles through optimization at single and multilayer in vitro cell models, Cancers, 10, 84.
  • Yang, C, K. Bromma, C. Di Ciano-Oliveira, G. Zafarana, M. van Prooijen and B.D. Chithrani, 2018. Gold nanoparticle mediated combined cancer therapy, Cancer Nanotechnol. 9, 4.
  • Yang, C., Uertz, J., & Chithrani, D. (2016). Colloidal gold-mediated delivery of bleomycin for improved outcome in chemotherapy. Nanomaterials. 6(48), 1-15
  • Darren Yohan, Charmainne Cruje, B. Devika Chithrani, Elucidating the Uptake and Distribution of Nanoparticles in Solid Tumors via a Multilayered Cell Culture Model, Journal of Micro-Nano Letters (open access journal), 7, 127-137 (2015). Featured on the cover.
  • Mehrnoosh Neshatian, Stephen Chung, Darren Yohan, Celina Yang, B. Devika Chithrani, Uptake of Gold Nanoparticles in Breathless (hypoxic) Cancer Cells, Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology, 11,1162-1172 (2015)
  • Celina Yang, Jamie Uertz, Darren Yohan, B. Devika Chithrani, Peptide Modified Gold Nanoparticles for Improved Cellular Uptake, Nuclear Transport, and Intracellular Retention, Nanoscale, 6, 12026- 12033 (2014)
  • C. Cruje and B.D. Chithrani, Integration of Peptides for Enhanced Uptake of PEGylayed Gold Nanoparticles, Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, 15, 1-7 (2014)
  • C. Cruje and B.D. Chithrani, Polyethylene Glycol Density and Length Affects Nanoparticle Uptake by Cancer Cells, Journal of Nanomedicine Research, 1, 1-6 (2014)
  • Charmainne Cruje and B. Devika Chithrani, Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) Functionalized Nanoparticles for Improved Cancer Treatment, Reviews in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, 3, 20-30 (2014)
  • M. Neshatian, S. Chung, D. Yohan, C. Yang, and B.D. Chithrani, Elucidating the Uptake of Nanoparticles in Tumor-like Environment (Hypoxic), Journal of Colloid and Interface Science Communications, 1, 57-61 (2014)
  • C. Yang, M. Neshatian, M. van Prooijen, and D. B. D. Chithrani, Cancer Nanotechnology: Enhanced Therapeutic Response Using Peptide-Modified Gold Nanoparticles, Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, 14, 4813–4819 (2014)
  • Darren Yohan and B. Devika Chithrani, Applications of Nanoparticles in Nanomedicine, Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology, 10, 2371-2392 (2014)
  • C. Yang, D. Yohan and B.D. Chithrani, Optimized Bio-Nano Interface using Peptide Modified Colloidal Gold Nanoparticles, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science Communications, 1, 54-57 (2014)
  • B. Devika Chithrani, Use of Gold Nanoparticles as a Model System to Optimize Interface Between Medicine and Nanotechnology, Invited Review Article, Insciences, 1,115-135 (2011)
  • Salomeh Jelveh and B. Devika Chithrani, Gold-based Nanostructures for Improved Cancer Therapeutics, Invited Review Article, Cancers, 3, 1081 (2011)
  • B. Devika Chithrani, Intracellular uptake, transport, and excretion of nanoparticles, Invited Review Article, Molecular Membrane Biology, 27, 299-311 (2010)
  • B. Devika Chithrani, Nanoparticles for Improved Therapeutics and Imaging in Cancer Therapy, Invited Review Article, Recent Patents on Nanotechnology, 4, 171-180 (2010)
  • B. Devika Chithrani, Salomeh Jelveh, Richard P Hill, Robert Bristow, David A Jaffray, Gold Nanoparticles as a Radiation Sensitizer in Cancer Therapy, Radiation Research, 173, 719 (2010)
  • B. Devika Chithrani, James Stewart, Michael Dunne, Christine J. Allen, and David A. Jaffray, Cellular Uptake and Transport of Gold Nanoparticles in a Liposomal Carrier, Nanotechnology Biology, and Medicine 6,161 (2010)
  • B. Devika Chithrani, James Stewart, Christine J. Allen, and David A. Jaffray, Intracellular Uptake and Transport of Nanostructures in Cancer Cells, Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine, 5, 118 (2009)
  • B. Devika Chithrani and Warren C.W. Chan, Elucidating the Mechanism of Cellular Uptake and Removal of Protein–coated Gold Nanoparticles of Different Sizes and Shapes, Nano Letters, 7, 1542 (2007)
  • B. Devika Chithrani, Arezou Ghazani, Warren C.W. Chan, Determining the Size and Shape Dependence of Nanoparticle – Uptake into Mammalian Cells, Nano Letters, 6, 662 (2006)

Book chapters

  • Chithrani, B.D., 2018.  Intracellular targeting using surface-modified gold nanoparticles, in: Biomedical Applications of Functionalized Nanomaterials (B. Sarmento and J. das Neves, ed.). pp. 315-333, Elsevier Press, Atlanta (Chapter (#11) in a research text).
  • Cruje, C., D. Yohan, C.Yang, M. Neshatian and B.D. Chithrani, 2014. Intracellular behavior of nanoparticles based on their physico-chemical properties, in: Handbook of Research on Diverse Applications of Nanotechnology in Biomedicine, Chemistry, and Engineering (S. Soni, A. Salhotra, and M. Suar ed.), pp. 10-35, IGI publishing, Pennsylvania. (Chapter (#2) in a research text).
  • Chithrani, B.D., 2013. Gold Nanoparticle-mediated Radiosensitization, in: Cancer Nanotechnology: Principles and Applications in Radiation Oncology (S. Krishnan and S.H. Cho, ed.), pp. 111-121, CRC press, Florida (Chapter (#9) in a research text).
  • Neshatian, M., C. Yang, N. Hegarty and B.D. Chithrani, 2014. Optimizing the Bio-Nano Interface for Gold Nanoparticle, in: Precious metals for Biomedical Applications (N. Baltzer and T. Copponnex, ed.), pp. 87-106, Woodhead Publishing, Cambridge (Chapter (#4) in a research text).
  • Chithrani, B.D. and W.C.W. Chan, 2006. Nanoparticles in Biomedical Photonics, in: Encyclopaedia of Biomedical Engineering (M. Akay, ed.), John Wiley & sons, New Jersey. (Chapter in a research text).