Faculty Directory
Igal Szleifer

Christina Enroth-Cugell Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Professor of Chemistry

Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Professor of Medicine


2170 Campus Drive
Silverman Hall 4629
Evanston, IL 60208-2850

847-467-0674Email Igal Szleifer


Igal Szleifer Reseach Group


Biomedical Engineering


Theoretical and Applied Mechanics Graduate Program

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Ph.D. summa cum laude, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

B.Sc. Chemistry, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Research Interests

The focus of our research is in the molecular modeling of biointerphases. Our work is aimed at the fundamental understanding of the properties of complex molecular systems that encompass problems at the interface between medicine, biology, chemistry, physics and materials science. Our group concentrates on the development and application of theoretical approaches that enable the study of the systems of interest at the molecular level. The results of these studies are then used in the design of optimal materials that interact with biological environments, Most of our projects are carried out in close collaboration with experimental collaborators. Our theoretical work has the dual purpose of: 1) the fundamental understanding of what are the molecular factors that determine the properties and behavior of the interactions between biological environments and synthetic systems, and 2) the ability to predict in a quantitative way experimental systems in order to use the theoretical approaches as a device tool for the engineer of new materials, such as biocompatible materials and drug carriers.

Specific systems of interest include: chromatin, protein adsorption and biocompatible materials, lipid layers and model cell membranes, drug delivery systems, ligand-receptor binding and smart (responsive) materials.

Selected Publications

  • Huang, Kai; Szleifer, Igal, Modeling the nucleoporins that form the hairy pores, Biochemical Society transactions 48(4):1447-1461 (2020).
  • Perez Sirkin, Yamila A.; Szleifer, Igal; Tagliazucchi, Mario, Voltage-Triggered Structural Switching of Polyelectrolyte-Modified Nanochannels, Macromolecules 53(7):2616-2626 (2020).
  • Perez Sirkin, Y. A.; Tagliazucchi, M.; Szleifer, I., Transport in nanopores and nanochannels, Materials Today Advances 5 (2020).
  • Ramírez, Pedro G.; Del Pópolo, Mario G.; Vila, Jorge A.; Szleifer, I.; Longo, Gabriel S., Adsorption and insertion of polyarginine peptides into membrane pores, Journal of Colloid And Interface Science 552:701-711 (2019).
  • Powell, Bethany; Malaspina, David C.; Szleifer, Igal G; Dhaher, Yasin Y, Effect of collagenase–gelatinase ratio on the mechanical properties of a collagen fibril, Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology 18(6):1809-1819 (2019).
  • Virk, Ranya K.A.; Wu, Wenli; Almassalha, Luay M.; Bauer, Greta M.; Li, Yue; VanDerway, David; Frederick, Jane; Zhang, Di; Eshein, Adam; Roy, Hemant K.; Szleifer, Igal; Backman, Vadim, Disordered chromatin packing regulates phenotypic plasticity, Science Advances 6(2) (2020).
  • Huang, Kai; Li, Yue; Shim, Anne R.; Virk, Ranya K.A.; Agrawal, Vasundhara; Eshein, Adam; Nap, Rikkert J.; Almassalha, Luay M.; Backman, Vadim; Szleifer, Igal, Physical and data structure of 3D genome, Science Advances 6(2) (2020).
  • Huang, Kai; Tagliazucchi, Mario; Park, Sung Hyun; Rabin, Yitzhak; Szleifer, Igal, Nanocompartmentalization of the Nuclear Pore Lumen, Biophysical Journal (2019).
  • Icazatti, Alejandro A.; Loyola, Juan M.; Szleifer, Igal; Vila, Jorge A.; Martin, Osvaldo A., Classification of RNA backbone conformations into rotamers using 13C' chemical shifts, PeerJ 2019(10) (2019).
  • Powell, Bethany; Szleifer, Igal G; Dhaher, Yasin Y, In silico study of principal sex hormone effects on post-injury synovial inflammatory response, PloS one 13(12) (2018).
  • Longo, Gabriel S.; Pérez-Chávez, Néstor A.; Szleifer, Igal, How protonation modulates the interaction between proteins and pH-responsive hydrogel films, Current Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science 41:27-39 (2019).
  • Casalino-Matsuda, S. Marina; Wang, Naizhen; Ruhoff, Peder T.; Matsuda, Hiroaki; Nlend, Marie C.; Nair, Aisha; Szleifer, Igal; Beitel, Greg J.; Sznajder, Jacob I.; Sporn, Peter H.S., Hypercapnia Alters Expression of Immune Response, Nucleosome Assembly and Lipid Metabolism Genes in Differentiated Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells, Scientific reports 8(1) (2018).
  • Yu, Jin; Nap, Rikkert J.; Szleifer, Igal; Wong, Joyce Y., Effect of Polymer Surface Modification of Superparamagnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticle Dispersions in High Salinity Environments, Langmuir 35(48):15864-15871 (2019).
  • Westmoreland, Dana E.; Nap, Rikkert J.; Arcudi, Francesca; Szleifer, Igal; Weiss, Emily A., PH-Dependent structure of water-exposed surfaces of CdSe quantum dots, Chemical Communications 55(38):5435-5438 (2019).
  • Nap, Rikkert J.; Szleifer, Igal, Effect of calcium ions on the interactions between surfaces end-grafted with weak polyelectrolytes, Journal of Chemical Physics 149(16) (2018).
  • Chin, Stacey M.; Synatschke, Christopher V.; Liu, Shuangping; Nap, Rikkert J.; Sather, Nicholas A.; Wang, Qifeng; Álvarez, Zaida; Edelbrock, Alexandra N.; Fyrner, Timmy; Palmer, Liam C.; Szleifer, Igal; Olvera De La Cruz, Monica; Stupp, Samuel I., Covalent-supramolecular hybrid polymers as muscle-inspired anisotropic actuators, Nature communications 9(1) (2018).
  • Shim, Anne R.; Nap, Rikkert J.; Huang, Kai; Almassalha, Luay M.; Matusda, Hiroaki; Backman, Vadim; Szleifer, Igal, Dynamic Crowding Regulates Transcription, Biophysical Journal 118(9):2117-2129 (2019).
  • Zhou, Xiang; Gladstein, Scott; Almassalha, Luay M.; Li, Yue; Eshein, Adam; Cherkezyan, Lusik; Viswanathan, Parvathi; Subramanian, Hariharan; Szleifer, Igal; Backman, Vadim, Preservation of cellular nano-architecture by the process of chemical fixation for nanopathology, PloS one 14(7) (2019).
  • Azzaroni, Omar; Szleifer, Igal G, Preface, Wiley Blackwell:xxi-xxii (2017).
  • Azzaroni, Omar; Szleifer, Igal, Polymer and Biopolymer Brushes, Wiley-Blackwell (2017).
  • Tagliazucchi, Mario; Huang, Kai; Szleifer, Igal, Routes for nanoparticle translocation through polymer-brush-modified nanopores, Journal of Physics Condensed Matter 30(27) (2018).
  • Gilles, Facundo M.; Boubeta, Fernando M.; Azzaroni, Omar; Szleifer, Igal; Tagliazucchi, Mario, Modulation of Polyelectrolyte Adsorption on Nanoparticles and Nanochannels by Surface Curvature, Journal of Physical Chemistry C 122(12):6669-6677 (2018).
  • Silies, Laura; Gonzalez Solveyra, Estefania; Szleifer, Igal; Andrieu-Brunsen, Annette, Insights into the Role of Counterions on Polyelectrolyte-Modified Nanopore Accessibility, Langmuir 34(20):5943-5953 (2018).
  • Malaspina, David C.; Szleifer, Igal G; Dhaher, Yasin Y, Mechanical properties of a collagen fibril under simulated degradation, Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 75:549-557 (2017).
  • Morochnik, Simona; Zhu, Yunxiao; Duan, Chongwen; Cai, Michelle; Reid, Russell R.; He, Tong Chuan; Koh, Jason; Szleifer, Igal; Ameer, Guillermo A., A thermoresponsive, citrate-based macromolecule for bone regenerative engineering, Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A 106(6):1743-1752 (2018).
  • Nap, Rikkert J.; Tagliazucchi, Mario; Solveyra, Estefania Gonzalez; Ren, Chun Lai; Uline, Mark J.; Szleifer, Igal, Modeling of Chemical Equilibria in Polymer and Polyelectrolyte Brushes, Wiley-Blackwell:161-221 (2017).
  • Nap, Rikkert J.; Park, Sung Hyun; Szleifer, Igal, Competitive calcium ion binding to end-tethered weak polyelectrolytes, Soft Matter 14(12):2365-2378 (2018).
  • Nap, Rikkert J.; Gonzalez Solveyra, Estefania; Szleifer, Igal, The interplay of nanointerface curvature and calcium binding in weak polyelectrolyte-coated nanoparticles, Biomaterials Science 6(5):1048-1058 (2018).
  • Almassalha, Luay M.; Bauer, Greta M.; Wu, Wenli; Cherkezyan, Lusik; Zhang, Di; Kendra, Alexis; Gladstein, Scott; Chandler, John E.; Vanderway, David; Seagle, Brandon Luke L.; Ugolkov, Andrey; Billadeau, Daniel D.; O'Halloran, Thomas V.; Mazar, Andrew P.; Roy, Hemant K.; Szleifer, Igal; Shahabi, Shohreh; Backman, Vadim, Macrogenomic engineering via modulation of the scaling of chromatin packing density, Nature Biomedical Engineering 1(11):902-913 (2017).
  • Gunn, B. M.; Shansab, M.; Schneider, J. R.; Bastian, A. R.; Fahrbach, K. M.; SmithIV, A. D.; Mahan, A. E.; Karim, M. M.; Licht, A. F.; Zvonar, I.; Tedesco, J.; Anderson, M. R.; Chapel, A.; Suscovich, T. J.; Malaspina, D. C.; Streeck, H.; Walker, B. D.; Kim, A.; Lauer, G.; Altfeld, M.; Pillai, S.; Szleifer, I.; Kelleher, N. L.; Kiser, P. F.; Hope, T. J.; Alter, G., Enhanced binding of antibodies generated during chronic HIV infection to mucus component MUC16, Mucosal Immunology 9(6):1549-1558 (2016).
  • Li, Yue; Almassalha, Luay M.; Chandler, John E.; Zhou, Xiang; Stypula-Cyrus, Yolanda E.; Hujsak, Karl A.; Roth, Eric W.; Bleher, Reiner; Subramanian, Hariharan; Szleifer, Igal; Dravid, Vinayak P.; Backman, Vadim, The effects of chemical fixation on the cellular nanostructure, Experimental Cell Research 358(2):253-259 (2017).
  • Almassalha, L. M.; Tiwari, A.; Ruhoff, P. T.; Stypula-Cyrus, Y.; Cherkezyan, L.; Matsuda, H.; Dela Cruz, M. A.; Chandler, J. E.; White, C.; Maneval, C.; Subramanian, H.; Szleifer, I.; Roy, H. K.; Backman, V., The global relationship between chromatin physical topology, fractal structure, and gene expression, Scientific reports 7 (2017).
  • Wu, Wenli; Radosevich, Andrew J.; Eshein, Adam; Nguyen, The Quyen; Yi, Ji; Cherkezyan, Lusik; Roy, Hemant K.; Szleifer, Igal; Backman, Vadim, Using electron microscopy to calculate optical properties of biological samples, Biomedical Optics Express 7(11):4749-4762 (2016).
  • Almassalha, Luay M.; Bauer, Greta M.; Chandler, John E.; Gladstein, Scott; Cherkezyan, Lusik; Stypula-Cyrus, Yolanda; Weinberg, Samuel; Zhang, Di; Ruhoff, Peder Thusgaard; Roy, Hemant K.; Subramanian, Hariharan; Chandel, Navdeep S.; Szleifer, Igal; Backman, Vadim, Label-free imaging of the native, living cellular nanoarchitecture using partial-wave spectroscopic microscopy, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113(42):E6372-E6381 (2016).
  • Tagliazucchi, Mario; Szleifer, Igal G, Chemically Modified Nanopores and Nanochannels, Elsevier Inc. (2016).
  • Solveyra, Estefania Gonzalez; Tagliazucchi, Mario; Szleifer, Igal, Anisotropic surface functionalization of Au nanorods driven by molecular architecture and curvature effects, Faraday Discussions 191:351-372 (2016).
  • Tagliazucchi, M.; Szleifer, I., Dynamics of dissipative self-assembly of particles interacting through oscillatory forces, Faraday Discussions 186:399-418 (2016).
  • Gilles, Facundo M.; Tagliazucchi, Mario; Azzaroni, Omar; Szleifer, Igal, Ionic Conductance of Polyelectrolyte-Modified Nanochannels, Journal of Physical Chemistry C 120(9):4789-4798 (2016).
  • Ren, Chun Lai; Schlapak, Robert; Hager, Roland; Szleifer, Igal G; Howorka, Stefan, Molecular and Thermodynamic Factors Explain the Passivation Properties of Poly(ethylene glycol)-Coated Substrate Surfaces against Fluorophore-Labeled DNA Oligonucleotides, Langmuir 31(42):11491-11501 (2015).
  • Gelman Constantin, Julian; Carignano, Marcelo A.; Corti, Horacio R.; Szleifer, Igal, Molecular Dynamics Simulation of Ice Indentation by Model Atomic Force Microscopy Tips, Journal of Physical Chemistry C 119(48):27118-27124 (2015).
  • Tagliazucchi, Mario; Szleifer, Igal, How Does Confinement Change Ligand-Receptor Binding Equilibrium? Protein Binding in Nanopores and Nanochannels, Journal of the American Chemical Society 137(39):12539-12551 (2015).
  • Longo, Gabriel S.; Olvera De La Cruz, Monica; Szleifer, Igal, Controlling swelling/deswelling of stimuli-responsive hydrogel nanofilms in electric fields, Soft Matter 12(40):8359-8366 (2016).
  • Taneva, Ekaterina; Crooker, Kerry; Park, Sung Hyun; Su, Jonathan T.; Ott, Adina; Cheshenko, Natalia; Szleifer, Igal; Kiser, Patrick F.; Frank, Bruce; Mesquita, Pedro M.M.; Herold, Betsy C., Differential mechanisms of tenofovir and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate cellular transport and implications for topical preexposure prophylaxis, Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy 60(3):1667-1675 (2016).
  • Teller, Ryan S.; Malaspina, David C.; Rastogi, Rachna; Clark, Justin T.; Szleifer, Igal G; Kiser, Patrick, Controlling the hydration rate of a hydrophilic matrix in the core of an intravaginal ring determines antiretroviral release, Journal of Controlled Release 224:176-183 (2016).
  • Chandler, John E.; Stypula-Cyrus, Yolanda; Almassalha, Luay; Bauer, Greta; Bowen, Leah; Subramanian, Hariharan; Szleifer, Igal; Backman, Vadim, Colocalization of cellular nanostructure using confocal fluorescence and partial wave spectroscopy, Journal of Biophotonics 10(3):377-384 (2016).