Yamuna Krishnan

Yamuna Krishnan is a Professor and Brain Research Foundation Fellow of Chemistry and the Grossman Institute of Neuroscience at the University of Chicago. 

Research in her laboratory spans organic synthesis, nucleic acid biophysics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and cell biology. Her lab has pioneered the deployment of DNA nanodevices as quantitative fluorescent reporters of second messengers for in vivo imaging.

The youngest woman recipient of India’s highest scientific prize, the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award, featured in Cell's 40 under 40 - a list of young scientists who are shaping current and future trends in biology. She has received the Infosys Prize for Physical Sciences, the Wellcome Trust Senior Fellowship, the AVRA Young Scientist Award, the Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award, the INSA Young Scientist Medal, the Chemical Sciences Lectureship and the AWIS Chicago Innovator of the Year 2016.

DNA nanodevices as probes for cell signaling

DNA has taken on a new aspect as a construction element to create synthetic architectures on the nanoscale of exquisite structural complexity and in vitro functionality. However, till 2009, the functionality of such synthetic DNA-based devices in living organisms remained elusive. Work from my group has bridged this gap by showing the functionality of architecturally simple DNA-based nanodevices in living systems. I will describe our recent work that uses a cell targetable icosahedral DNA nanocapsule as a versatile probe for live cell imaging to study membrane initiated steroid signaling.


Chakraborty, K., et al. Nucleic acid based nanodevices in biological imaging. Ann. Rev. Biochem. 2016, 85, 349

Surana, S., et al. Designing DNA nanodevices for compatibility with the immune system of higher organisms. Nat. Nanotechnol. 2015, 10, 741

Bhatia, D. et al, A synthetic icosahedral DNA-based host–cargo complex for functional in vivo imaging Nature Communications, 2011, 2, 339

Bhatia, D. et al Quantum-dot loaded, monofunctionalized DNA icosahedra for single particle tracking of endocytic pathways. Nat. Nanotechnol. 2016, 11,1112

Veetil, A. T. et al. Cell targetable nanocapsules for spatiotemporal release of caged bioactive small molecules. Nat. Nanotechnol. 2017, 12, 1183

Veetil, A. T. et al. Chemical Control over memberane-initiated steroid signaling with a DNA nanocapsule Proc. Natl. Acad Sci. USA  2018, in press.