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Science Research at NMIMS


At NMIMS Sunandan Divatia School of Science the research is being actively carried out in the areas of Biosciences and Chemistry. Our strategic future plan involves development and validation of cell-based models/assays for drug screening/diseases and inclusion of innovative areas of research in cell biology.

The major areas of research in the area of Biological Sciences and Chemical Sciences that have been initiated at SDSOS have been highlighted below:
• Stem Cell Biology
• Cancer Biology
• Nanotechnology
• Medicinal Plants Research

Research Areas & Groups

The NMIMS Sunandan Divatia School of Science is strongly driven by highly qualified scientific talent pool. The main focus of our R & D activities has been to conduct applied research at the interface of Chemistry and the Biosciences on current problems of national importance.

Various research oriented projects in the area of Biological Sciences and Chemical Sciences that have been initiated at Sunandan Divatia School of Science have been highlighted below:

Stem Cell Research : 

The work in this area at the School involves use of adult, embryonic and pluripotent stem cells to understand fundamental mechanism of pluripotency and differentiation. Previously at the School extensive work was carried out on human umbilical cord derived mesenchymal stem cells (hUC-MSCs), their differentiation into hepatocytes and also assessing the use of nanoparticles for in vivo tracking of hUC-MSCs. The research on human pluripotent stem cells are focused on understanding the role of histone modifiers during differentiation into pancreatic and neuronal cell lineages. Differentiation of pluripotent stem cells requires precise orchestration between changes in chromatin, transcription, translation, metabolism and cell morphology. Pluripotent stem cells have an “open chromatin” and hence they can differentiate into all three germ lineages such as endoderm, mesoderm and ectoderm in response to extraneous signals. Chromatin remodelling is an essential step towards differentiation in the case of pluripotent stem cells. Two most widely studied chromatin modifications in stem cells are DNA methylation and histone modifications. Polycomb group (PcG) proteins are developmentally crucial set of histone modifying proteins that bring about gene repression. PcG form multiprotein complexes called Polycomb Repressive Complexes (PRC) such as PRC1 and PRC2.

We aim to study the PcG expression, location as well as histone modifications catalysed by them at developmentally crucial genes during pancreatic and neuronal differentiation from human ES and iPS cells. At the School of Science, the following projects have been undertaken to understand the role of Polycomb Group (PcG) proteins during human pluripotent stem cells differentiation:

- Effect of signaling pathways (Sonic hedgehog & Retinoic Acid) on PcG proteins during pluripotent stem cells differentiation into pancreatic lineage

- Role of Polycomb Repressive Complex 1 during differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into neural lineage

We have received funds from Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the Early Career Research Award (ECR) scheme for one of the above mentioned projects.

Faculty Involved:

Dr. Aparna Khanna

Dr. Prasad Pethe

Other Research Work (Click Here to Know More)

Cancer Biology :

Oral cancer is a major health concern in India being the most common cancer in males and fifth most common cancer females, with 77,003 new cancer cases diagnosed annually. In the recent past, genomic constitution of an individual has been shown to play a critical role in development, progression, prognosis and response to treatment in human cancers. Our project in oral cancer aims to unravel the role of genomic variants as ‘Predictive Biomarkers’ in oral cancer. Besides, interaction of the genes harbouring genomic variants and/or somatic mutations including H.ras at codons 12 (Gly12Val) and 13 (Gly13Asp), and several additional molecules including p53, TGFBR2 and FHIT proteins, deregulated in oral cancers are investigated as targets for ‘small drug-like molecules’ through in silico analysis as a novel approach for treatment of oral cancer patients in the realm of ‘Personalised Medicine’. The focus of our studies are multiple SNPs in genes functioning in cell cycle, cell proliferation and differentiation, metastasis, oxidative stress and apoptosis in 500 oral cancer patients and 500 healthy long term tobacco habitués in an Indian cohort.

Areas of Cancer Research

Molecular Pathology of Oral Cancer

In Silico analysis of small drug like molecules for targeting genomic variants and somatic mutations in oral cancer.

The research project was supported by an intramural grant from NMIMS (deemed-to-be) University, Mumbai.

Faculty Involved:

Dr. Dhananjaya Saranath

Dr. Harinder Singh

Medicinal Plant Research : 

Medicinal plants play an important role in supporting healthcare system in India. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 65-80% of world’s population still relies on locally available medicinal plants to meet its health needs. India has a rich heritage of medicinal plants. Our goal through research on medicinal plants is to identify plants/extracts with the potential to improve human health and to enable their safe, effective and proper use.

Research projects on medicinal plants at SD-SOS focus on studying the phytochemical and pharmacological activities of medicinal plants against various diseases that are currently affecting the population in general. The approach for the study relies on a battery of biological assays, both in vitro (cellular, biochemical and molecular) and in vivo to detect pharmacological activity as well as phytochemical standardization of the extracts. Research groups are also involved in New Drug Development from Plants, Herb Drug interactions, Enhancement of Solubility profiles of Ayurvedic drugs, Isolations and Characterization of Chemical Constituents from Plants by Physico chemical Methods, Validations of plants with respect to marker compounds, impurity profiling of Modern Drugs by LC/MS/MS.

Various studies undertaken on medicinal plants at SD-SOS are as follows:

• In vitro evaluation of hepato-protective activity in cell lines
• In vitro evaluation of various phyto-constituents for their anti-cancer and tumor growth inhibiting properties
• Evaluation of wound healing properties in rat model
• In vitro and in vivo evaluation of anti-rheumatic activities
• Evaluation of inhibitory effect on dental biofilm formation in simulated mouth system
• Evaluation of anti-hyperlipidemic activities in rats
• Effect on anti-quorum sensing activities against Gram negative pathogens
• Evaluation of skin care properties as well as UV protectant activity

Faculty Involved:

Dr. Nancy Pandita

Dr Brijesh S

NanoResearch in Department of Chemistry & Biological Science : 

With the advent of nanotechnology, new materials are being explored for their application in biomedical arena. Nanoparticle mediated drug delivery has helped us to achieve high payload and specificity of chemotherapeutics thereby reducing their adverse effects on patients. The nanomaterials are also very useful for fabricating biosensors for detection of specific diseases. Department of Chemistry at Sunandan Divatia School of Science is involved in Nanoresearch with an objective to synthesize various nanomaterials for multimodal applications. One of them being, synthesis of dendrimer based nanoparticles for early detection of liver diseases. While on other hand, we are also working towards development of biocompatible magnetic nanoparticles for imaging, targeting and in-vivo tracking of stem cell. Yet another approach of our research is concomitant to the saying "There is plenty of room at the bottom" by Richard Feynman-Nobel Laureate. With an understanding that nanomedicine can offer plenteous ways of treating cancer, we ought to design a multimodal nano-platform for dual drug therapy and multiple treatment modalities (photo-thermal, Chemotherapy, magnetic hyperthermia).

Besides biomedical applications, we are also involved in designing advanced nanomaterials for their use in alternative energy generation and storage such as fabrication of supercapacitors. With several collaborations abroad, our department is involved in multi-disciplinary research with an aim to develop functional nanomaterials for a rich variety of applications.

Use of arsenic and its derivatives dates back to more than 2400 years with Arsenic trioxide (As2O3) being successfully implemented to treat refractory or relapsed Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL). One of its limiting factor for cancer treatment include its toxicity against normal cells. Nanoparticles offer the flexibility with sustained-release characteristics, ability of surface-modification, bio-ligand attachment thereby offering a plethora of options. Hence, we attempted to synthesize biocompatible As2O3 nanoparticles (NPS) that would provide lowered toxicity and high anti-cancer activity for various solid tumors. In vitro anticancer efficacy of biopolymer coated As2O3 NPs was investigated in LNCaP and PC-3 cell lines, by assessing DNA damage, changes in epigenetic modulations, expression level of apoptotic markers and cell cycle analysis following treatment with As2O3 NPs. Our results demonstrated that the nanoparticulate formulation of dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) and chitosan coated As2O3 is capable of inducing morphological changes, DNA damage and caspase-dependent apoptosis along with the expression of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 by upregulation of Bax and downregulation of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL proteins. . We plan to explore and have a detailed understanding of the molecular interaction between the drug i.e arsenic trioxide with the coating material using molecular modelling in silico. Blood compatibility studies would be done to understand the effect of the drug on body fluid specifically blood cells. Hence, this would help us in gaining a deep understanding of the interaction of arsenic trioxide nanoparticles on cancer cell lines.

Faculty Involved:

Dr. Sudeshna Chandra

Dr. Purvi Bhatt

Research Infrastructure

The Sunandan Divatia School of Science has laboratories that are well equipped with state of art facilities for conducting research programs in biological and chemical sciences. There are exclusive laboratories for analytical, microbial, cell biology and pharmacological work.

Tissue Culture Room

In view of a large number of students interested in working on research projects involving cell culture techniques, the School of Science with support from NMIMS Management has established a state of the art “Animal Tissue Culture (ATC) Laboratory”. The laboratory contains all the necessary facilities that are required for handling cell lines. The basic infrastructure available at the ATC lab includes:

• Esco Class II Biosafety Cabinet
• Klenzaid Laminar Hood
• Carl Zeiss inverted phase contrast microscope with camera
• Sanyo CO2 incubator
• Thermo Scientific Hereaus CO2 incubator
• MBE 2000 Liquid Nitrogen Cryosystem
• Eppendorf refrigerated centrifuge

Biology & Chemistry Lab

• B.O.D. Incubator, Newtronic
• Deep Freezer, Thermo Fisher Scientific
• Deep Freezer, Siemens
• Refrigerator (4 c), Celfrost
• Waterbath, Metalab
• Refrigerated Centrifuge, Eppendorf
• Peristaltic pump, Enertech
• Digital Balance, Shimadzu
• Water purifier, Elga
• Single Platform rocker, Neolab
• Vertical Gel Electrophoresis Apparatus, Techno Source
• Horizontal Gel Electrophoresis Apparatus, Techno Source
• UV Cabinet with Imaging System, Camag
• Heating Block, Neolab
• Autoclave, Equitron
• PCR Thermal Cycler, Applied Biosystems
• Real Time PCR machine, Applied Biosystems
• Homogenizer, Spinco biotech
• UV Spectrophotometer Perkin Elmer
• ELIZA reader & washer, Biorad
• Microscope, Labomed
• Laminar Air flow, Microfilt india
• Incubator, Metalab
• pH meter, Eutech
• Analytical Balance, Shimadzu • HPLC System, Agilent
• PDA Detector, Jasco
• FTIR , Jasco
• UV Spectrophotometer, Jasco
• pH Meter, Lab India
• pH Meter, Cyberscan
• Calcium Fluoride Cell 0.05mm, Perkin Elmer
• Double Distillation Apparatus, Lab-Sil
• Vacuum Pump, TID-25-P
• Magnetic Stirrer without plate, Remi
• Ultrasonocator, Cole Palmer • Incubator shaker, Remi
• Magnetic Stirrer with hot plate, Cole Palmer
• Ultrasonocator, Cole Palmer
• Muffle Farnace, Expo Hi-Tech
• Vacuum Oven, Expo Hi-Tech
• Oil Bath, Trishul Equipment
• Machanical Stirrer, Trishul Equipment
• Fume hood, Lab-Tech
• Hot Air Oven (18"x18"x18"), Meta-Lab
• Speedovap, P.Prabha
• Sonicator, Dakshin

Computer Lab

See the pictures below of laboratory and research centre.

Publications & Patents

a) Title of patent: Isolation and identification of bioactive compounds from Ocimum tenuiflorum Linn for Acne vulgaris
Name of the author: Nancy Satish Pandita, Vinita Dashrath Apraj
Application No. and Country: 684/MUM/2014, India
Patent No.: 54572 25/09/15
Status: Complete specification filed Year: 2014-15

b) Title of patent: Isolation and identification of bioactive compounds from Citrus reticulate Blanco for Acne vulgaris
Name of the author: Nancy Satish Pandita, Vinita Dashrath Apraj
Application No. and Country: 685/MUM/2014, India
Status: Complete specification filed
Year: 2014-15

c) Title of patent: Determination of Withaferin A in rats by high performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC) method
Name of the aurthor: Nancy Satish Pandita, Sweta Vikas Jha
Application No. and Country: 687/MUM/2014, India
Patent No.: 54628 25/09/15
Status: Complete specification filed Year: 2014-15

Publications - 2016

  • Chitrangi S, Nair P, Khanna A. Three dimensional polymer scaffolds for enhanced differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells to hepatocyte-like cells: A comparative study. Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine. 2016. Epub. doi: 10.1002/term.2136
  • Chhabria SV, Desai KB. Purification and characterisation of alliinase produced by Cupriavidus necator and its application for generation of cytotoxic agent: allicin. Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences. 2016. In Press.
  • Jadhav V, Ray P, Sachdeva G, Bhatt P. Biocompatible arsenic trioxide nanoparticles induce cell cycle arrest by p21WAF1/CIP1 expression via epigenetic remodeling in LNCaP and PC3 cell lines. Life Sciences. 2016. 148: 41–52.
  • Jadhav V, Sachar S., Chandra S, Bahadur D, Bhatt P. Synthesis and characterization of arsenic trioxide nanoparticles and their in vitro cytotoxicity studies on mouse fibroblast and prostate cancer cell lines. Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. 2016. 16(7): 7599-7605.
  • Kargutkar S, Brijesh S. Anti-rheumatic activity of Ananas comosus fruit peel extract in complete Freund’s adjuvant rat model. Pharmaceutical Biology. 2016: 1-7. Epub. doi. 10.3109/13880209.2016.1173066
  • Malhotra S, Welling MN, Mantri SB, Desai K. In vitro and in vivo anti-oxidant, cytotoxic and anti-chronic inflammatory arthritic effect of selenium nanoparticles. Journal of Biomedical Materials Research: Part B - Applied Biomaterials. 2016. 104(5): 993-1003.
  • Multani S, Saranath D. Gene polymorphisms and oral cancer risk in tobacco habitués. Tumor Biology. 2016. 37(5): 6169-6176.
  • Multani S, Saranath D. Genotypic distribution of single nucleotide polymorphisms in oral cancer: Global Scene. Tumor Biology. 2016. (In Press).
  • Multani S, Saranath D. Single nucleotide polymorphisms and risk of oral cancer: Indian case-control study. Journal of Clinical and Cellular Immunology. (In Press)
  • Patwardhan J, Bhatt P. Flavonoids derived from Abelmoschus esculentus Attenuates UV-B Induced Cell Damage in Human Dermal Fibroblasts through Nrf2-ARE Pathway. Pharmacognosy Magazine. 2016. 12(Suppl 2):S129-38.
  • Raut A, Khanna A. Enhanced expression of hepatocyte-specific microRNAs in valproic acid mediated hepatic trans-differentiation of human umbilical cord derived mesenchymal stem cells. Experimental Cell Research. 2016. 343(2): 237-247.
  • Shalia K, Saranath D, Rayar J, Shah VK, Mashru MR, Soneji SL. Identification of a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism indicative of high risk in Acute Myocardial Infarction in Population from Western India. Indian Journal of Medical Research. 2016. (In Press)
  • Taparia S, Khanna A. Effect of procyanidin-rich extract from natural cocoa powder on cellular viability, cell cycle progression, and chemoresistance in human epithelial ovarian carcinoma cell lines. Pharmacognosy Magazine. 2016. 12(S2):109-115.
  • Taparia SS, Khanna A. Procyanidin-rich extract of natural cocoa powder causes ROS-mediated caspase-3 dependent apoptosis and reduction of pro-MMP-2 in epithelial ovarian carcinoma cell lines. Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy. 2016. 83:130-140.
  • Thakkar M, Brijesh S. Combating malaria with nanotechnology-based targeted and combinatorial drug delivery strategies. Drug Delivery and Translational Research. 2016. 6: 414. doi:10.1007/s13346-016-0290-2.
  • Thakkar M, Brijesh S. Opportunities and challenges for niosomes as multiple drug delivery systems for combination therapy. Current Drug Delivery. 2016. doi: 10.2174/1567201813666160328113522.

For Previous Year Publications (Click Here)

Sanctioned Projects

Internal Sponsored Projects

a) Title of project: Single nucleotide polymorphism as predictive biomarkers in oral cancer
PI: Dr. Dhananjaya Saranath
Period: 3 years
Amount: Rs. 3,500,000/-

b) Title of patent: Deciphering the extra-oviductal role of oviductal glycoprotein I (OYGPI)
PI: Dr. Purvi Bhatt
Period: 1 year
Amount: Rs. 100,000

c) Title of project: To study the expression of Polycomb Group (PcG) proteins during differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cells
PI: Dr. Aparna Khanna;
Co-PI: Dr. Prasad Pethe
Period: 1 year
Amount: Rs. 99,500

d) Title of project: Identification of the microbiome of the oral cavity and implications in oral cancer
PI: Dr. Dhananjaya Saranath;
Co-PI: Dr. Harinder Singh
Period: 1 year
Amount: Rs. 99,500

e) Title of project: Development of Electrochemical Biosensors For Liver Cancer
PI: Dr. Sudeshna Chandra
Period: 1 year
Amount: Rs. 100,000

f) Title of project: In vitro anti-inflammatory activity of Ananas comosus on pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IL-1β
PI: Dr. Brijesh S.
Period: 1 year
Amount: Rs. 100,000

External Sponsored Projects:

a) Title of the project: Synthesis and characterization of novel nanoparticles and study of their interactions with stem cells
Funding Agency: DST Nanomission
PI: Dr. Aparna Khanna, Dean, Sunandan Divatia School of Science
Period: 3 years
Amount: Rs. 4,495,000

b) Title of the project: Single nucleotide polymorphisms as predictive diagnostic biomarkers in oral cancer (Sanctioned)
Funding Agency: ICMR
PI: Dr. Dhananjaya Saranath, Professor, Biological Sciences, Sunandan Divatia School of Science
Period: 3 years
Amount: Rs. 4,500,000

c) Title of the project: Investigating the effect of sonic hedgehog and retinoic acid signalling on polycomb group (PcGs) proteins during pancreatic lineage differentiation from pluripotent stem cells (Sanctioned)
Funding Agency: DST-SERB – Early Career Researcher (ECR) Scheme
PI: Dr. Prasad Pethe; Co-PI: Dr. Aparna Khanna
Period: 3 years
Amount: Rs. 3,900,000

Research Collaborators:

The Sunandan Divatia School of Science has established research collaborations with the following Scientists/institutions:

  • Dr Prabha Nair, Tissue Engineering and Regeneration Technologies Division, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India. Website:
  • Dr Dhirendra Bahadur, Department of Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, Maharashtra, India. Website:
  • Dr Geetanjali Sachdeva, Primate Biology, National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH), Mumbai. Website:
  • Dr Vinutha Murthy (Charles Darwin University, Australia) for Molecular Dynamics of tumor suppressor as a target gene and interaction with small drug-like molecules. Website:
  • Dr Peter Shaw (Charles Darwin University, Australia) for Big data analysis on multiple SNPs in oral cancers. Website:
  • Dr Rernat Kolja Them, Research Scientist ,Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
    (University Medical Center of Hamburg), Germany. Website:
  • Professor Antje J. Baeumner, Universität Regensburg, Institut für Analytische Chemie, Chemo- und Biosensorik, Regensburg, Germany Website:
  • Professor Heinrich Lang, Technische Universität Chemnitz, Institute of Chemistry, Chemnitz, Germany. Website:

Clinical Collaborators:

  • Dr Sultan Pradhan (Prince Aly Khan Hospital, Mumbai)
  • Dr Nagraj Huilgol (Dr. Balabhai Nanavati Hospital, Mumbai)
  • Dr Ashok Mehta (BSES Hospital, Mumbai)
  • Cancer Patients Aid Association (NGO)

Sunandan Divatia School of Science has signed MOUs with following institutions:

Institute of Chemical Technology, Matunga, Mumbai. Under this MOU, the two institutions will encourage research activities of mutual interest to both the parties.

MOUs with the following institutions will promote research in contemporary areas. This would allow faculty/student exchange and hence result in collaborative research/shared publications and better funding opportunities for interdisciplinary research.

• With the Cellular and Molecular Imaging Laboratory, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, Michigan, USA – Research in the area of Cell/Stem Cell tracking using nanoparticles for the development of sensitive imaging modalities
• With the School of Regenerative Medicine, Bangalore, Manipal University – Research in the area of stem cells/cancer stem cells

Recommended Conferences

We are recommending following conferences 

 • American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)
 • International p53 Conference
 • Gordon Research Conferences
 • Cold Spring Harbor Asia Conferences
 • Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR)
 • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
 • International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB)
 • UICC World Cancer Congress • FASEB’s Science Research Conferences (SRC)
 • Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory Conferences
 • Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) meetings and summer workshops
 • International Congress on Cell Biology • American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)
 • International Conference on Medicinal Plants and Herbal Drugs
 • International Conference on Stem cells and Cancer (ICSCC)
 • American Association of Immunologists (AAI)
 • International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR)
 • Young Investigator Meeting (YIM)

INDIAN SOCIETIES / ASSOCIATIONS Indian Society for the Study of Reproduction and Fertility (ISSRF)

• Indian Society of Cell Biology (ISCB).
• Association of Microbiologist in India (AMI).
• Indian Science Congress
• Indian Immunology Society (IIS)
• Society of Biological Chemists (SBC), India.
• The Biotech Research Society (BRSI), India.
• Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA)
• Indian Pharmacological Society (IPS)

Sr. No.SubjectName of the conferenceSponsors
1Green ChemistryIUPAC Conference on Green ChemistryIUPAC, ACS
2NanosciencesInternational Conference on Emerging Advanced Nanomaterials Challenges in Nanosciences (ISACS9) RSC
3Analytical ChemistrySMASH 2012ACD Labs, Bruker
4General ChemistryEurasia 12
16th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference
5ElectrochemistryAnnual Meeting of the International Society of ElectrochemistryISE

Ph. D. Students at SDSOS

Research by Ph. D. Students (Click Here)

Doctor of Philosophy Programs (Ph. D. Programs)  at Sunandan Divatia School of Science, NMIMS, Mumbai

Click on below Ph.D. programs to know more

Ph.D. in Biological Sciences

Ph.D. in Chemistry

Ph.D. in Chemistry (For Professionals)