Devika Chithrani

Devika Chithrani
Associate Professor
Physics and Astronomy
Office: Elliott 107

BSc (Hons. University of Colombo), MSc (University of Toronto), PhD (University of Toronto), NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow (University of Toronto)

Area of expertise

Medical physics, synthesis and characterization of nanoparticles

Overview of research


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 cancer nanomedicine.

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. For example, radiation therapy and chemotherapy remain as the most widely used treatment options. Our studies show that the incorporation of gold nanostructures into those protocols have enhanced tumor cell damage. However, nanoparticle based platforms are still at the initial stage of development and much more research is required before they can be applied in clinical applications.

Therefore, this emerging field of nanomedicine requires better understanding of the interface between nanotechnology and medicine in order make use of their full potential in the clinic. 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, we have shown how the size, shape, and surface properties of nanoparticles (NPs) affect their intracellular fate both in vitro and in vivo. We also engineer three dimensional tissue-like models to test our nanoparticle systems before using then in animal models. These fundamental studies will facilitate building of better NP-based platforms for improved results in the future cancer care of patients.



2023-2024 Academic year:

PHYS 120: This is an introductory physics course.

PHYS 232: This course delivers materials related to special topics in biomedical sciences. In other words, we will learn to use the physics we learned in the first year to understand their applications in biomedical sciences. This includes biomedical imaging, therapy, and diagnostics. We will also tour the British Columbia Cancer Agency to witness how some of the things you lean in the course is used in day today.

Graduate students

  • Nolan Jackson (MSc); Mitacs Accelerate fellowship
  • Abdulaziz Alhussan (PhD); NMIN graduate scholarship award
  • Sara Eaton (MSc); NSERC CGSM
  • Reinali Calisin (MSc); BC graduate scholarship
  • Daniel Cecchi (PhD)
Previous Graduate Students:
  • Kyle Bromma (PhD); Received NSERC CGS D
  • Kristy Rieck (MSc); Received NSERC and UVic fellowship
  • Aaron Bannister (MSc); Received UVic fellowship
  • Celina Yang (PhD); Funded by NSERC and OGST
  • Celina Yang (MSc); Received NSERC
  • Darren Yohan (MSc); Funded by NSERC
  • Charmainne Cruje (MSc); Funded by NSERC
  • Mehrnoosh Neshatian (MSc); Funded by NSERC
Previous Undergraduate students:
  • Reinali Calisin (summer student)
  • Nolan Jackson (NSERC USRA summer student)
  • Nicholas Pamerley (4th year thesis student)
  • Leah Cicon (NSERC USRA summer student; 4th year thesis student, JCURA recipient)
  • Antonia Kowalewski (Summer student)
  • Dushanthi Dissanayake (Summer Student)
  • Sarah Eaton (NSERC USRA summer student; 4th year thesis student, JCURA recipient)
  • Kyle Bromma (NSERC USRA summer student; 4th year thesis student, JCURA recipient)
  • Ashley Singh (Honors thesis)
  • Rawan Ibrahem (Honors thesis)
  • Qingmiao Ran (Honors thesis)
  • Natasha Hegarty (Honors thesis)

Selected publications

  1. Yang C, J Uertz, D Yohan and DB Chithrani, 2014. Peptide Modified Gold Nanoparticles for Improved Cellular Uptake, Nuclear Transport, and Intracellular Retention. Nanoscale, 6 (20), 12026. (Impact factor: 7.8)
  2. Yohan D, C Cruje, X Lu and DB Chithrani, 2015. Elucidating the Uptake and Distribution of Nanoparticles in Solid Tumors via a Multilayered Cell Culture Model. Nano-Micro letters, 7 (2), 127. Featured on the cover. (Impact factor: 16.4).
  3. Chithrani DB, S Jelveh, F Jalali, M van Prooijen, C Allen, R Bristow, R Hill and DA Jaffray, 2010. Gold Nanoparticles as a Radiation Sensitizer in Cancer Therapy. Radiation Research, 173 (6), 719 - 728. Featured on the cover of the journal
  4. Chithrani DB and WCW Warren, 2007. Elucidating the Mechanism of Cellular Uptake and Removal of Protein–coated Gold Nanoparticles of Different Sizes and Shapes. Nano Letters, 7 (6), 1542. (Impact factor: 11.2)
  5. Chithrani DB, G Ghazani and WCW. Chan, 2006. Determining the Size and Shape Dependence of Nanoparticle – Uptake into Mammalian Cells. Nano Letters, 6 (4), 662. (Impact factor: 11.2; Citations: 5070).
  6. Jackson N, Bromma K, Alhussan A, Beckham W, Weinfeld M and DB Chithrani, 2022. Combination of pyronaridine and gold nanoparticles for optimizing the outcome in radiotherapy. Pharmaceutics, 14, 2795.
  7. Alhussan A, Jackson N, Bromma K, Santos ND, Barta I, Alexander A, Beckham W, Chen S, Tam, C and DB Chithrani, 2022. Lipid Nanoparticle Mediated Delivery of Docetaxel Prodrug for Exploiting Full Potential of Gold Radiosensitizers in the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer. Cancers, 14, 3586.
  8. Alhussan A, Smazynski J, Palmerley N, Karasinska J, Renouf DJ, Schaeffer DF, Alexander AS, Beckham W, and DB Chithrani, 2022. Potential of Gold Nanoparticle in Current Radiotherapy Using a Co-Culture Model of Cancer Cells and Cancer Associated Fibroblast Cells. Cancers, 14, 3586. (Impact factor: 6.9). 
  9. Bromma K, Santos ND, Barta I, Alexander A, Beckham W, Krishnan S and DB Chithrani, 2022. Assessing gold nanoparticle uptake in two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and mouse pre-clinical prostate cancer cell models. Scientific Reports, 12, 1.
  10. Han O, Bromma K, Palmerley N, Monica M, Alhussan A, Howard P, Beckham W, Abraham A and DB Chithrani, 2022. Nanotechnology driven cancer chemoradiation: Exploiting the full potential of radiotherapy with a unique combination of gold nanoparticles and bleomycin. Pharmaceutics, 14 (2), 233. (Impact factor: 6.5).
  11. Alhussan A, Bozdoğan EPD and DB. Chithrani, 2021. Combining gold nanoparticles with other radiosensitizing agents for unlocking the full potential of cancer radiotherapy. Pharmaceutics, 13 (4), 442. (Impact factor: 6.5).
  12. Alhussan A, Bromma K, Perez MM, Beckham W, Alexander AS, Howard PL and DB Chithrani, 2021. Docetaxel-mediated uptake and retention of gold nanoparticles in tumor cells and in cancer-associated fibroblasts. Cancers (Basel), 13, 3157. (Impact factor: 6.9).
  13. Bromma K, Alhussan A, Perez MM, Howard P, Beckham W and DB Chithrani, 2021. Three-dimensional tumor spheroids as a tool for reliable investigation of combined gold nanoparticle and docetaxel treatment. Cancers, 13 (6), 1465. (Impact factor: 6.9).
  14. Alhussan A, Bromma K, Bozdoğan EP, Metcalfe A, Karasinska J, Beckham W, Alexander A, Renouf DJ, Schaeffer DF and DB Chithrani, 2021. Investigation of nano-bio interactions within a pancreatic tumor microenvironment for the advancement of nanomedicine in cancer treatment. Current Oncology, 28 (3), 1962.
  15. Bromma K, Bannister A, Kowalewski A, Cicon L and DB Chithrani, 2020. Elucidating the fate of nanoparticles among key cell components of the tumor microenvironment for promoting cancer nanotechnology. Cancer Nanotechnology (Springer Nature), 11 (1), 8.
  16. Bannister A, Dissanayake D, Kowalewski A, Cicon L, Bromma K and DB Chithrani, 2020. Modulation of the microtubule network for optimization of nanoparticle dynamics for the advancement of cancer nanomedicine. Bioengineering, 7 (2), 56.
  17. Bromma K and DB Chithrani, 2020. Advances in gold nanoparticle-based combined cancer therapy. Nanomaterials (Basel), 10 (9), 1671.
  18. Bromma K, Cicon L, Beckham W and DB Chithrani, 2020. Gold nanoparticle mediated radiation response among key cell components of the tumour microenvironment for the advancement of cancer nanotechnology. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 12096. 
    This study was highlighted in “The conversation”, national post, Daily beast, and even in news week Japan.
  19. Schuemann J, Bagley AF, Berbeco R, Bromma K, Butterworth KT, Byrne HL, Chithrani DB, Cho SH, Cook JR and V Favaudon, 2020. Roadmap for metal nanoparticles in radiation therapy: Current status, translational challenges, and future directions. Physics in Medicine & Biology, 65 (21), 21RM02. (Citations: 50).
  20. Bannister A, Bromma K, Sung W, Mesa M, Cicon L, Howard P, Chow B, Schuemann J and DB Chithrani, 2019. Modulation of nanoparticle uptake, intracellular distribution, and retention with docetaxel to enhance radiotherapy, British Journal of Radiology, 92 (1106), 20190742.

Book chapters

  1. Alhussan A, Eaton S, Palmerley N and DB Chithrani. Microtubule Targeting in Cancer Treatment. Organelle and Molecular Targeting (L.S. Milane and M. M. Amiji), 2021, pp. 403-420, CRC Press, Florida (Chapter (#14) in a research text).
  2. Chithrani DB, 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).
  3. Cruje C, D Yohan, C Yang, M Neshatian and DB 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).
  4. Chithrani DB, 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).
  5. Neshatian M, C Yang, N Hegarty and DB 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).
  6. Chithrani DB and WCW Chan, 2006. Nanoparticles in Biomedical Photonics, in: Encyclopaedia of Biomedical Engineering (M. Akay, ed.), John Wiley & sons, New Jersey. (Chapter in a research text)..


  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Council (NSERC)
  • The Government of Canada through the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Program
  • Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI)
  • British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF)
  • University of Victoria (UVic)