Carnegie Mellon University Department of Chemistry
photo of Danith Ly

Danith Ly


Carnegie Mellon University


Phone: (412) 268-4010

Fax: (412) 268-1061

Office: Mellon Institute 841

Group website

Faculty & Research

Danith Ly


Research Areas

Bioorganic chemistry, chemical biology, gene regulation, cellular delivery, protein engineering, molecular self-assembly

Research Problems

Our research program for the past seven years has been focused on the design and development of molecular tools and reagents to regulate gene expression and probe protein localization and dynamics in human somatic and embryonic stem (ES) cells. We are particularly interested in dissecting the genetic blueprint of human ESC and addressing fundamental questions pertaining to the cellular origins of cancer. More recently, we have expanded our research program into other areas including protein design, tissue engineering and molecular self-assembly—taking advantage of the strength of the department, which is interdisciplinary research, combined with our ability to synthesize molecules that integrate all three features of the natural biopolymers: nucleic acids, proteins, and carbohydrates.

Education and Appointments
Years Position or Degree
2015–present Professor of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University
2007–2015 Associate Professor of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University
2001–2006 Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University
1999–2001 Postdoctoral Fellow, The Scripps Research Institute
1998–1999 Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley
1994–1998 Ph.D. in Chemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology
1990–1994 B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
Awards and Distinctions
Years Award
2012 Julius Ashkin Teaching Award, Mellon College of Science
2002 Innovative Research Award
2002 The Berkman Faculty Development Award
2000 Honorarium, Cosmetic Society for Chemists
2000 National Institute of Aging Emerging Researcher
1999-2001 American Chemical Society Irving Sigal Postdoctoral Fellowship
1996 House-Flashka-Ashby Award
1994 Albert Einstein Award in Astrophysics/Philosophy
Selected Publications

Yeh, J. I., Shivachev, B., Rapireddy, S., Crawford, M. J., Gil, R. R., Du, S., Madrid, M., Ly, D. H. “Crystal structural of chiral γPNA with complementary DNA strand: Insights into the stability and specificity of recognition and conformational preorganization”. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 10717-10727.

He, G., Rapireddy, S., Bahal, R., Sahu, B., Ly, D. H. “Strand invasion of extended, mixed-sequence B-DNA by γPNAs”. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131, 12088-12090.

Dragulescu-Andrasi, A., Rapireddy, S., Frezza, B. M., Gayathri, C., Gil, R. R., Ly, D. H. “A simple γ-backbone modification preorganizes peptide nucleic acid into a helical structure”. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2006, 128, 10258-10267.

Zhou, P., Wang, M., Fisher, G. W., Waggoner, A., Ly, D. H. “Novel binding and efficient cellular uptake of guanidine-based peptide nucleic acids (GPNA)”. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2003, 125, 6878-1879.