photo of Dr. Sunitha Nagrath

Sunitha Nagrath, PhD

Professor of Chemical Engineering
Co-Director, Single Cell Analysis Core, Rogel Cancer Center
Associate Director for Community, Single Cell Spatial Analysis Program

Translating the next generation of engineering tools to patient care.

Dr. Nagrath develops advanced MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems) tools to isolate cells in the blood, characterize them, and study their circulation to understand cell trafficking. Dr. Nagrath is best known for the application of these smart devices in cancer, but she is now applying them to ALS. In ALS, She is not only studying cells in the blood, but also in tissue and spinal cord samples from our ALS Biorepository in hopes of better understanding disease progression in ALS.

Her future efforts will include designing and developing smart chips using microfluidics and nanotechnology to impact medicine and life sciences with the end goal of creating cutting-edge engineering solutions for clinical medicine using novel translational biomedical research tools. Dr. Nagrath strongly believes in building a team where engineers, biologists and clinicians will come together to solve complex problems with better approaches.


  • B.Tech., Chemical Engineering with Honors, Sri Venkateswara University College of Engineering (SVUCE), India
  • M.S., Nuclear Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York, 2000
  • Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York, 2004
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Center for Engineering in Medicine, Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital/Shriners Burns Hospital, 2000-2004

Honors & Awards

  • Popular Mechanics Magazine's Annual Breakthrough Award, 2008
  • NIH Director’s New Investigator Award, 2009
  • Career Development Award, Department of Defense, 2013
  • Coulter Translational Research Award, University of Michigan, 2014
  • Lefkofsky Scholar Award, University of Michigan, 2015
  • AACC's Outstanding Speaker Award, American Association for Clinical Chemistry, 2015
  • Guest Editor, Special issue on Liquid Biopsies, The Cancer Journal, March/April 2018, Vol 2.
  • Departmental Excellence Award for outstanding research, University of Michigan Department of Chemistry, 2018
  • Analytical Chemistry Young Innovator Award, American Chemical Society, 2018
  • Rogel Cancer Center: Rogel Scholar, Michigan Medicine, 2019
  • Expertscape World Expert (top 0.1%) in Circulating Neoplastic Cells, 2019
  • David E. Liddell Award for Research Excellence from the College of Engineering, University of Michigan, 2019
  • Guest editor, Special issue on “ALK: A Tyrosine Kinase Target for Cancer Therapy", Cancers, 2019-2020
  • BI Innovator Award, BioInterfaces Institute, University of Michigan, 2020
  • Finalist, NIH Pioneer Award, 2020
  • American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) Fellow, 2020