Prof. Dr. Sapun Parekh

Sapun Parekh is currently jointly appointed as Group Leader in Molecular Spectroscopy Department at the MPI-P (since 2012) and Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin (since 2019) where he conducts research on the molecular organization and biophysics of soft matter using nonlinear microscopy and label-free imaging. He received his BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 2002 and completed his PhD in Bioengineering from the University of California at Berkeley/San Francisco in 2008 where he focused on force generation and mechanics of semi-flexible actin networks. This was followed by a postdoctoral period (2008-2010) in the Biomaterials Group at the National Institute for Standards and Technology where he worked on mechanobiology of stem cell differentiation and development of label-free imaging techniques. Sapun joined the MPI-P in February 2012 after working as a Science Policy Fellow in the National Science Foundation in Washington, DC and as a visiting scientist at the National Institutes of Health. He currently oversees projects funded by the DFG and HFSP programs in his group.

Main Research Interests

Molecular Imaging

We use a variety of microscopy methods, among them coherent Raman and nonlinear fluorescence, to study fundamental processes in soft matter systems: from force transduction in cells and materials, to subtle biochemical modifications in metabolic disorders. We aim to exploit the unique capabilities of nonlinear vibrational imaging: unprecedented chemical specificity, high spatial, and high temporal resolution with minimal photo-damage, to gain new insight about local chemical heterogeneity in biology and disease. We apply these techniques to study biophysics and chemistry of disease in three different areas: 1) lipid chemistry in oxidative and adipose tissues as related to obesity, 2) granule formation in relation to neurodegeneration, and 3) mechano-chemical control of structure and function in biomaterials.


Anastasia C. Murthy, A. C.; Dignon, G. L.; Kan, Y.; Zerze, G. H.; Parek, S. H.;Mittal, J. Fawzi, N. L.      
Molecular interactions underlying liquid−liquid phase separation of the FUS low-complexity domain
Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, 26, pages 637–648 (2019)
Paul, A.; Wang, Y.; Brännmark, C.; Kumar, S.; Bonn, M.; Parekh, S. H.: Quantitative Mapping of Triacylglycerol Chain Length and Saturation Using Broadband CARS Microscopy. Biophysical Journal 116 (12), pp. 2346 - 2355 (2019)
Ling, X.; Bonn, M.; Domke, K. F.; Parekh, S. H.: Correlated interfacial water transport and proton conductivity in perfluorosulfonic acid membranes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116 (18), pp. 8715 - 8720 (2019)
Varol, H. S.; Meng, F. L.; Hosseinkhani, B.; Malm, C.; Bonn, D.; Bonn, M.; Zaccone, A.; Parekh, S. H.: Nanoparticle amount, and not size, determines chain alignment and nonlinear hardening in polymer nanocomposites. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114 (16), pp. E3170 - E3177 (2017)
Fleissner, F.; Bonn, M.; Parekh, S. H.: Microscale spatial heterogeneity of protein structural transitions in fibrin matrices. Science Advances 2 (7), e1501778 (2016)
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