Sanjeevi Sivasankar

Sanjeevi Sivasankar

Position Title
Associate Professor

Department of Biomedical Engineering

2519 GBSF

Research Interests

Molecular and cellular mechanobiology, single molecule biophysics, instrument development

Dr. Sivasankar aims to resolve the physical principles by which cells sense and respond to mechanical stimuli. The Sivasankar Group focuses on two research themes: biophysical studies of mechanical tension sensing in cells and bioengineering tool development. The group’s projects include biophysical studies of cell-cell adhesion and its regulation and the development of high resolution techniques to quantify the effect of mechanical force on protein structure-function.

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering

Specialties / Focus

  • Dynamics and Biophysical Engineering
  • Spectroscopy and Imaging
  • Structural Biology, Membranes and Macromolecular Assembly


  • Ph.D. (Biophysics): University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship (Biophysics): Stanford University/UC Berkeley (Advisor: Prof. Steven Chu)


  1. Jazani, S., Sgouralis, I., Shafraz, O., Levitus, M., Sivasankar, S., Pressé, S., (2019) An Alternative Framework for Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy, Nature Communications, 10, Article number:3662
  2. Shafraz, O., Rübsam, M., Stahley, S., Caldara, A., Kowalczyk, A., Niessen, C., Sivasankar, S.*, (2018) E-cadherin binds to desmoglein to facilitate desmosome assembly, eLife, 7, e37629.
  3. Schmidt, P., Reichert, B., Lajoie. J., Sivasankar, S.*, (2018) Method for high frequency tracking and sub-nm sample stabilization in single molecule fluorescence microscopy, Scientific Reports, 8, 13912.
  4. Yen, C.F., Sivasankar, S.*, (2018) Improving estimation of kinetic parameters in dynamic force spectroscopy using cluster analysis, The Journal of Chemical Physics, 148, 123301.
  5. Yen, C.F., Sivasankar, S.*, (2017) Minimizing open-loop piezo actuator nonlinearity artifacts in atomic force microscope measurements, Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B, 35, 053201.
  6. Priest, A.V.^, Shafraz, O.^, Sivasankar, S.*, (2017) Biophysical basis of cadherin mediated cell-cell adhesion, Experimental Cell Research, 358, pp. 10-13.
  7. Manibog, K.^, Yen,C.F.^, Sivasankar, S.*, (2017) Measuring force induced dissociation kinetics of protein complexes using single molecule atomic force microscopy, Methods in Enzymology, 582, 297-320.
  8. Manibog, K., Sankar, K., Kim, S., Zhang, Y., Jernigan, R., Sivasankar, S.*, (2016) Molecular determinants of cadherin ideal bond formation: Conformation-dependent unbinding on a multidimensional landscape, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113, no. 39, pp. E5711-E5720.
  9. Yen, C.F., Harishchandra, D., Kanthasamy, A., Sivasankar, S.*, (2016) Copper-induced structural conversion templates prion protein oligomerization and neurotoxicity, Science Advances, 2, 7, e1600014.
  10. Manibog, K., Li, H., Rakshit, S., Sivasankar, S.*, (2014) Resolving the molecular mechanism of cadherin catch bond formation, Nature Communications, 5, Article number:3941.
  11. Lowndes, M., Rakshit, S., Shafraz, O., Borghi, N., Harmond, R., Green, K., Sivasankar, S., Nelson, W.J., (2014) Distinguishing roles of different cadherins in the assembly and structural integrity of the desmosome complex, Journal of Cell Science,127, 2339-2350.
  12. Rakshit, S., Sivasankar, S.*, (2014) Biomechanics of cell adhesion: How force regulates the lifetime of adhesive bonds at the single molecule level, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 16, 2211-2223.
  13. Sivasankar, S.*, (2013) Tuning the kinetics of cadherin adhesion, Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 133, 2318-2323.
  14. Rakshit, S., Zhang, Y.X., Manibog, K., Shafraz, O., Sivasankar, S.*, (2012) Ideal, catch and slip bonds in cadherin adhesion, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109, 18815-18820.
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  15. Li, H.^, Yen, C.F.^, Sivasankar, S.*, (2012) Fluorescence Axial Localization with Nanometer Accuracy and Precision, Nano Letters, 12, 3731-3735.
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  16. Leckband, D., Sivasankar, S., (2012) Cadherin recognition and adhesion, Current Opinion in Cell Biology, 24, 1-8.
  17. Leckband, D., Sivasankar, S., (2012) Biophysics of cadherin adhesion, Springer: Sub-cellular Biochemistry, Volume: 60, Pages: 63-88.
  18. Choi, C.L., Li, H., Olson, A.C.K., Jain, P.K., Sivasankar, S.*, Alivisatos, A.P.*, (2011) Spatially indirect emission in a luminescent nanocrystal molecule, Nano Letters, 11, 2358-2362.
  19. Li, H., Fowler, N., Struck, C., Sivasankar, S.*, (2011) Flow triggered by instabilities at the contact-line of a drop containing nanoparticles, Soft Matter, 7, 5116-5119.
  20. Rakshit, S., Sivasankar, S.*, (2011) Cross-linking of a charged polysaccharide using polyions as electrostatic staples, Soft Matter, 7, 2348-2351.
  21. Choi, C.L., Koski, K.J., Sivasankar, S., Alivisatos, A.P., (2009) Strain-Dependent Photoluminescence Behavior of CdSe/CdS Nanocrystals with Spherical, Linear, and Branched Topologies, Nano Letters, 9, 3544-3549.
  22. Sivasankar, S.^*, Zhang, Y.^, Nelson,W.J., and Chu, S.*, (2009) Characterizing the initial encounter complex in cadherin adhesion, Structure, 17, 1-7.
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  23. Sivasankar, S.* and Chu, S., (2009) Nanoparticle mediated non-fluorescent bonding of microspheres to atomic force microscope cantilevers and imaging fluorescence from bonded cantilevers with single molecule sensitivity, Nano Letters, 9, 2120-2124.
  24. Zhang, Y.^, Sivasankar, S.^*, Nelson,W.J., and Chu, S.*, (2009) Resolving cadherin interactions and binding cooperativity at the single molecule level, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106, 109-114.
  25. Sivasankar, S., and Chu, S., (2007) Optical bonding using silica nanoparticle sol-gel chemistry, Nano Letters, 7, 3031-3034.
  26. Sivasankar, S., Gumbiner, B., and Leckband, D., (2001) Direct measurements of multiple adhesive alignments and unbinding trajectories between cadherin extracellular domains, Biophysical Journal, 80, 1758-1768.
  27. Leckband, D., and Sivasankar, S., (2000) Mechanism of homophilic cadherin adhesion, Current Opinion in Cell Biology, 12, 587-592.
  28. Leckband, D., and Sivasankar, S., (1999) Forces controlling protein interactions: theory and experiment, Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, 14, 83-97.
  29. Sivasankar, S., Brieher, W., Lavrik, N., Gumbiner, B., and Leckband, D., (1999) Direct molecular force measurements of multiple adhesive interactions between cadherin ectodomains, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 96, 11820-11824.
  30. Sivasankar, S., Subramaniam, S., and Leckband, D., (1998) Direct molecular level measurements of the electrostatic properties of a protein surface, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 95, 12961-12966.