Nitin Agrawal, PhD

Contact Information

Nitin Agrawal, PhD
Assistant Professor, Bioengineering

Office: Krasnow Institute of Advanced Studies, Room 162
Office Hours: Wed. 10:00-12:00 & by appointment
Phone: (703) 993-3970
Fax: (703) 993-1601
Lab: µ-scale Lab

Nitin Agrawal, PhD

Courses Taught

BENG 499-003/ 590-001 – Biomedical Systems/ Microdevices

Research Interests:

  • Single cell analysis: Cell cycles, Heterogeneity, Co-culture
  • Cell migration
  • Cell-cell interaction
  • Bio-MEMS/microfluidic technologies for biological/biomedical applications


Dr. Nitin Agrawal received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Texas A&M University (2006) and postdoctoral training in Bioengineering from Harvard Medical School (HMS, 2009). At Texas A&M, Nitin made a remarkable breakthrough in DNA amplification technology by developing a novel convection based portable thermocycler for high-speed PCR. At HMS under the mentorship of Dr. Mehmet Toner, he acquired expertise in BioMEMS and microfacrication technologies. By conducting basic as well as clinical research, he studied neutrophils’ imminoinflammatory responses to complex signaling cascades during severe burn and trauma. This work reflects great potential for transitioning the bench-top analytical tools and technologies to bed-side settings for improved healthcare applications.

Nitin has taught several Mechanical Engineering courses at Washington State University, Tricities as adjunct faculty and also lead a variety of outreach activities as Chair of the local section of AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) in Washington State. At PNNL in 2011, Nitin was nominated for the prestigious Fitzner-Eberhardt Award for Outstanding Contributions to Science and Engineering Education.

Book Chapters

  • Agrawal, N. and Irimia, D., Neutrophil chemotaxis assay from whole blood samples, Methods in Bioengineering: Biomicrofabrication and Biomicrofluidics (2009), Chapter 8 (209-224).

Current Research

The focus of Dr. Agrawal’s research lab is to investigate the signal transduction intermediates involved in migration and abnormal multiplication of cancer cells. Traditional cell biology assays gather aggregate data from a pool of large number of cells which may not be the actual representative of given subpopulation of cells (malignant cells) in question. Therefore, he is studying diseases at the single cell level to enhance our conceptual understanding of real-time cellular responses under controlled spatial and temporal micro-environments. For this purpose, he utilizes the microfluidics technology that offers an ideal approach for manipulating cells on individual basis and provides a robust platform to analyze gene expressions from small samples. Majority of his research is directed towards single cell analysis of cellular responses during cell cycle progression, cancer cell migration and tumor-endothelial interaction. The results from this research will address several unanswered questions obscured because of cell-to-cell variability and current technological challenges that render the precise identification of rare cell responses difficult at the population level.

Selected Publications

  • Kim, J., Taylor, D., Agrawal, N., Wang, H., Han, A., Rege, K. and Jayaraman, A., “A Programmable Microfluidic Cell Array for Combinatorial Drug Screening”. Lab on a Chip (2012).
  • Yang, R., Fredman, G., Krishnamoorthy, S., Agrawal, N., Irimia, D., Piomelli, D., Serhan, C.N., Decoding functional metabolomics with docosahexaenoyl ethanolamide (DHEA) identifies novel bioactive signals. Journal of Biological Chemistry, (2011).
  • Agrawal, N., Toner, M. and Irimia, D. Neutrophil Migration Assay from a Drop of Blood. Lab on a Chip, 8(12):2054-61. (2008).
  • Agrawal, N., Hassan, Y.A., Ugaz, V.M. A pocket-sized convective PCR thermocycler. Angewandte Chemie-International Edition, 46, 4316-4319. (2007) (Published as Very Important Paper).

Recent Presentations

  • Agrawal, N., Kelly, R., Sun, X., Smith, R.D. Towards a microfluidic nanoESI-MS platform for sample preparation and analysis of single cells. In ASMS annual conference, 2010. Salt Lake, UT .
  • Agrawal, N., D. Irimia, and M. Toner. On-Chip Analysis of Neutrophil Isolation and Migration in Complex Chemotactic Environments. in AIChE Annual Meeting. 2008. Philadelphia, PA .
  • Agrawal, N., M. Toner, and D. Irimia. On-Chip Neutrophil Capture and Migration Analysis from a Drop of Blood. in The 61st Annual Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) meeting. 2008. Boston, MA .