Translational Biomedical Physics Research Group - Dr Ekpenyong

Translational Biomedical Physics Research Group - Dr Ekpenyong
Publications Faculty and Members Student Presentations News Collaborators Funding


Translational Biomedical Physics Research Group (TBP)

Almost all the vital signs are biophysical properties: blood pressure, pulse rate, body temperature, etc. We develop and use novel biophysical tools to discover new biomarkers that provide diagnostic information and new therapeutic options. We address the physician’s wish list in order to improve disease diagnosis, patient monitoring, drug development and testing, etc. While these efforts seek to improve biomedicine using principles and tools of physics, we also aim at advancing the physics of complex systems such as living matter. In particular, we seek to understand how biological cells function as mechanical units, with material properties.

TBP at a glance

Translational Biomedical Physics Lab Translational Biomedical Physics Lab Translational Biomedical Physics Group

Some of our discoveries and contributions:

Translational Biomedical Physics Lab

  • Lineage-specificity of viscoelastic  properties of stem cells following differentiation
  • Function-specificity of mechanical properties of progenitor cells following differentiation
  • Actin polymerization as key immune effector that controls bacterial infection
  • Optical properties of blood stem cells are lineage-specific
  • Bacterial infection of cells induces decrease in refractive index

Translational Biomedical Physics Lab


Examples of recent and current efforts:

  • Role of the cytoskeleton (actin) during  bacterial infection
  • Neutrophil priming and depriming in ARDS, ALI, COPD, Sepsis
  • Cancer Metastasis: effects of chemotherapy (for leukostasis in leukaemia)
  • Cancer Metastasis: effects of radiotherapy
  • Vaso-occlusive events in sickle cell disease
  • Cell deformability for Malaria prognosis
  • Microgravity has immunomodulatory effects on cells

Translational Biomedical Physics Lab



Dr Ekpenyong's Teaching at Creighton

  Summer Fall Spring
2014 Phy 212 (Gen Physics)

Project Phy 214, Phy 212 LM

2015 Phy 202, Phy 206 Lab Inst Phy 202, Phy 581 Nuclear Instruments and Methods Phy 202, Gen Phys Lab Coordinator
2016 Phy 202 Phy 531 Quantum Mechanics, Phy 581 Advanced Lab Phy 202, Phy 353 Intro Biological Physics
2017     Phy 662 Radiation Dosimetry/Protection, Phy 202 Gen Phys


AndrewEkpenyong Tue, 02/02/2016 - 11:36




8. B Lee, S Suresh, A Ekpenyong, Cyto-molecular Tuning of Quantum Dots Bulletin of the American Physical Society 62. Annual Meeting, American Physical Society, March 2017. (Poster)

7. SV Prathivadhi-Bhayankaram, J Ning, M Mimlitz, C Taylor, E Gross, ..A. Ekpenyong, Chemotherapy Impedes In Vitro Microcirculation and Promotes Migration of Leukemic Cells with Impact on Metastasis.Biophysical Journal 112 (3), 124a. Annual Conference, Biophysical Society, New Orleans, Feb., 2017. (Poster)

6. Devika Prasanth, S Suresh, M Mimlitz, N Zetocha, AE Ekpenyong, Microgravity Modulates Drug-Induced Enhancement of Cancer Cell Migration. Biophysical Journal 112 (3), 311a. Annual Conference, Biophysical Society, New Orleans, Feb., 2017. (Oral, Platform Presentation)


5.  Sruti Prathivadhi, Carolyn Taylor, Jianhao  Ning, Michael Nichols, Andrew Ekpenyong, Effects of chemotherapy-induced alterations in cell mechanical properties on cancer metastasis. Annual Meeting, American Physical Society, Maryland, March 2016. (Poster)

4. Sruti Prathivadhi, Carolyn Taylor, Jianhao  Ning, Michael Nichols, Andrew Ekpenyong. Cell mechanical properties and cancer metastasis: effects of cancer drugs and radiotherapy. Annual Meeting, Biophysical Society of America, Los Angeles, Feb., 2016. (Poster)

3. Carolyn Taylor, Sruti Prathivadhi, Jianhao  Ning, Michael Nichols, Andrew Ekpenyong. Microfluidic devices for biomechanical assessment of metastatic effects of cancer drugs. Global Health Conference-Midwest, Omaha, Feb 5th, 2016. (Poster)


2. Sruti Prathivadhi, Michael Nichols, Nathan Pennington, Andrew Ekpenyong.  Mathematically Modeling Cancer Metastasis through Mechanical Properties Detected by a Microfluidic Microcirculation Mimetic Device. National MAA MathFest Conference in Washington D.C.,  5th August, 2015.

1. Sruti Prathivadhi, Michael Nichols, Erin Gross, Andrew Ekpenyong. Modeling Cancer Metastasis through Mechanical Properties Detected by a Microfluidic Microcirculation Mimetic Device. St Albert’s Day Poster Presentation, Creighton Univ., April 14th, 2015.

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Faculty and Members

Faculty and Members

Ekpenyong Group

Group Picture: 2017. (L-R: Joe Bamesberger, Sindhuja Suresh, Devika Prasanth, Michael Merrick, Sruti Prathivadhi, Dr Andrew Ekpenyong, Anh Vo, Bong Lee, Noah Zetocha, Michael Mimlitz. Not shown: Christopher Landis, Aaron Herridge).


Dr Andrew Ekpenyong

Dr. Andrew Ekpenyong

*Currently a professor of physics at Creighton University; teaches Nuclear Instruments and Methods, General Physics, Quantum Mechanics; carries out medical physics and biomedical physics research.
*Education: PhD (Physics, University of Cambridge, UK, 2012), M.S. Physics (Creighton University, 2007), B.D (Pontifical Urban Univ, Rome, 2003), B.Phil, (Pontifical Urban Univ, Rome, 1998), B.A. (Univ of Uyo, Nigeria, 1998)
*Author of 3 Physics textbooks for high schools in Nigeria
*Author of over 25 scientific papers in international journals (biomedical physics, soft matter physics, physics of complex systems)
*Post-doctoral scientist in Dresden, Germany, 2012-2014
*Using his salary and donations from a non-profit organization he setup here in Nebraska, he is coordinating the building of Research Hospitals and Mobile Clinics in rural parts of Southeastern Nigeria (see
*He lives and ministers as a priest at St Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, Downtown Omaha.












Graduate Research Students:

1. Bong Han Lee

Bong Han Lee

*Class of 2018,

*In TBP, from Spring 2016;

Research Project: Cytomolecular Tunining of Quantum Dots for Bio-inspired Physics

Undergraduate Research Students:

Sruti Prathivadhi

1. Sruti Prathivadhi

*Class of 2017,  Mathematics and Physics double major, Premed;

*In TBP, from Spring 2015 till Spring 2017;

*2015 Ferlic Scholar, *2016 Ferlic Scholar

*Student Editor, Journal of Young Investigators

*Research Projects in TBP: 1) Mathematical modelling of cancer metastasis using hydrodynamics of microcirculation; 2) In vitro modelling of cancer metastasis using a Microfluidic Microcirculation Mimetic (MMM).






Jian-hao Ning

2. Jian-hao Ning

*Class of 2017,  Chemistry Major;

*In TBP, from Fall 2015 till Fall 2016;

*Research Project in TBP:

A morphometric algorithm for tracking chemotherapy-induced alterations in cell morphology with implications for cancer metastasis

3. Patrick Nguyen

4. Michael Mimlitz

"Sophomore at Creighton University: Physics and Chemistry Double Major on the premed track."


5. Carolyn Taylor (co-supervised by Dr M. Nichols)

6. Devika Prasanth

7. Sindhu Suresh


8. Noah Zetocha
*Currently a Junior at Creighton University; Biomedical Physics Major, Music and Public Health minors
*Member of the Honors Program
*Research Projects in Translation Biomedical Physics: 1) Using IL-8 cytokine secretion in HL-60 cells during simulated microgravity to study other secretion disorders such as cancers, sepsis and inflammatory disorders. 2) Use fluid flow computational model to represent fluid and cell movement in rotational cell culture system (NASA)



AndrewEkpenyong Sun, 02/07/2016 - 17:07


  • April 13th, 2019, Michael Merrick earns 4th Place for his presentation at the Missouri Valley Chapter of AAPM, held at Hyatt, St Louis, IL:"Radiotherapy induces enhanced migration of brain cancer and neuronal cells before cell death".
  • January 18th, 2019, Dr Ekpenyong receives a 2019 Faculty Summer Research Fellowship Award  ($10,000 in research funding) from the Creighton Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (CURAS) for his proposal: "Physics of Cancer: Impact of Radiotherapy on Cell
    Mechanics and Cancer Metastasis
    ". Two Undergraduate Researchers will be paid stipends of $3500 each for this research during the summer of 2019.
  • Oct 11th, 2016, Creighon News: "New publication highlights cancer research efforts of Creighton physics faculty, undergraduates" see…
  • Sept 26th, 2016, Biochem and Biophys Research Comm accepts TBP's Metastasis manuscript for publication. Now online at
  • April 12th, 2016, three TBP research students (Michael Mimlitz, Shruti Prathivadhi and Jing-Hao Ning) present posters at St Albert's Day, Creighton University.
  • March 15th, 2016, Dr Ekpenyong is chosen as an Early Career Reviewer for NIH, and assigned to review grant proposals submitted to the Enabling Bioanalytical and Imaging Technologies (EBIT) panel.
  • March 15th, 2016, Sruti wins another Ferlic Research Scholarship for 2016-2017, thus she will spend the Summer of 2016 working with Dr Ekpenyong on the project in her winning proposal.
  • The Honors Program on March 8th, approves  a travel grant of up to $350 to Sruti Prathivadhi, to cover expenses not covered by the CURAS grant above, for traveling to Baltimore, Maryland, to attend and present at the American Physical Society.  Big congrats, Sruti. Many more awards are on your way.
  • CURAS approves a Travel Request Grant (of up to $350) for Sruti Prathivadhi to travel to Baltimore, Maryland, from March 14th to 18th, for the American Physical Society Meeting where she will make a presentation: "Effects of Chemotherapy-Induced Alterations in Cell Mechanical Properties on Cancer Metastasis". Congrats, Sruti.
  • Sruti Prathivadhi wins a Presidential Mentoring Scholarship for 2016-2017 academic year. This was announced on the 17th of Feb. 2015. Congratulations, Sruti.



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Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

[28] Ekpenyong AE, N Toepfner, et al. (2017) Mechanical deformation induces depolarization of neutrophils. Science Advances  Vol 3, No. 6. 10.1126/sciadv.1602536

[27] SV Prathivadhi-Bhayankaram, J Ning, M Mimlitz, C Taylor, E Gross, ...A. Ekpenyong. (2016) Chemotherapy impedes in vitro microcirculation and promotes migration of leukemic cells with impact on metastasis. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 479 (4), 841-846.

[26] Ekpenyong AE, N Toepfner, ER Chilvers, J Guck. (2015) Mechanotransduction
in neutrophil activation and deactivation Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) 1853 (11):3105-3116. doi:10.1016/j.bbamcr.2015.07.015.

[25] Chan CJ,Ekpenyong AE*, Golfier S, Li W, Chalut KJ, et al. (2015)
Myosin II activity softens cells in suspension. Biophys J.
doi:10.1016/j.bpj.2015.03.009. (Where * indicates co-first author).

[24] Otto O, Rosendahl P, Mietke A, Golfier S, Herold C, Klaue D, Girardo
S, Pagliara S, Ekpenyong A, et al. (2015) Real-time deformability cytometry: on-the-fly cell mechanical phenotyping. Nat Methods 12(3):199-202. doi:10.1038/nmeth.3281

[23] Man SM, Ekpenyong AE*, Tourlomousis T, Achouri S, Cammarota E,
et al. (2014) Actin polymerization as a novel innate immune effector
mechanism to control Salmonella infection. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA

[22] Holmes D, Whyte G, Bailey J, Vergara-Irigaray N, Ekpenyong AE, et
al. (2014) Separation of blood cells with differing deformability using
deterministic lateral displacement. Interface Focus 4:6, 20140011

[21] Ekpenyong AE, Man SM, Achouri S, Bryant C, Guck J, et al. (2013)
Bacterial infection of macrophages induces decrease in refractive index.
J Biophotonics 6:5, 393-397. doi:10.1002/jbio.201200113

[20] Boyde L, Ekpenyong A, Whyte G, Guck J (2013) Elastic Theory for
the Deformation of a Solid or Layered Spheroid under AxisymmetricLoading. Acta Mechanica 224: 4, 819-839

[19] Ekpenyong AE, Whyte G, Chalut K, Pagliara S, Lautenschlæger F, et
al. (2012) Viscoelastic Properties of Differentiating Blood Cells Are
Fate- and Function-Dependent. PLoS ONE 7: e45237. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045237

[18] Chalut KJ, Ekpenyong AE*, Clegg WL, Melhuish IC, Guck J (2012)
Quantifying cellular differentiation by physical phenotype using digital
holographic microscopy. Integr Biol (Camb) 4: 280−284. doi:10.1039/c2ib00129b

[17] Boyde L, Ekpenyong A, Whyte G, Guck J (2012) Comparison of
stresses on homogeneous spheroids in the optical stretcher computed
with geometrical optics and generalized Lorenz-Mie theory. Appl Opt 51: 33, 7934-7944

[16] Ekpenyong AE, Posey CL, Chaput JL, Burkart AK, Marquardt MM,
et al. (2009) Determination of cell elasticity through hybrid ray optics
and continuum mechanics modeling of cell deformation in the optical
stretcher. Appl Opt 48: 6344−6354. doi:10.1364/AO.48.006344

[15] Jacobs KM, Yang L V., Ding J, Ekpenyong AE, Castellone R, et
al. (2009) Diffraction imaging of spheres and melanoma cells with a
microscope objective. J Biophotonics 2: 521−527.

Conference Publications

[14] Ekpenyong A, Guck J (2014) The Evolution of Mechanical Properties
of Differentiating Stem Cells is Fate-and Function-Dependent. Biophysical J 106: 2, 42a

[13] Ekpenyong AE, Chalut K, Whyte G, Guck J. (2011) Optical stretching
and digital holography quantify physical phenotypes of differentiating
cells. Institute of Physics, Quantitative Methods in Gene Regulation,London.

[12] Whyte G, Lautenschlæger F, Kreysing M, Boyde L, Ekpenyong A, Delabre
U, et al. (2010) Dual-beam laser traps in biology and medicine: when one beam is not enough SPIE NanoScience and Engineering,77620G-77620G-6.

[11] Jacobs KM, Ding J, Yang LV, Reynolds CL, Ekpenyong AE, Feng Y et
al. (2010) Diffraction Imaging Flow Cytometric and 3-D Morphological Analysis of Three Cell Lines. Biomedical Optics, OSA Technical Digest (CD) paper BTuD44

[10] Ekpenyong AE, Ding J, Yang L V., Leffler NR, Lu JQ, et al. (2009)
Study of 3D cell morphology and effect on light scattering distribution.
Proceedings of SPIE 7367: 73671J-7. doi:10.1117/12.831510

[9] Ekpenyong, AE, and MG Nichols. (2007) Hybrid Ray Optics and
Continuum Mechanics Modeling of Cell Deformation in the Optical
Stretcher. in Frontiers in Optics 2007/Laser Science XXIII/Organic
Materials and Devices for Displays and Energy Conversion. Optical
Society of America
, Washington, DC.JWC11.

[8] Ekpenyong, Andrew E, (2004) World Year of Physics 2005 and the
Planetary Emergencies in Proceedings of the 45th Annual Conference
of the Science Teachers’ Association of Nigeria
, ed. Matthias Akale,
Heinemann Books, Ibadan, Nigeria. Paper 37, pages 192-196.

Invited Talks, (International Conferences)

[7] Ekpenyong, AE, Schuermann, M, Man, SM, Achouri, S, Guck, J, et al.
Monitoring cell differentiation and infection using Digital Holographic
Microscopy. European Conferences on Biomedical Optics (ECBO). 12
May, 2013, Munich, Germany.

[6] Ekpenyong, AE, Guck, JR, et al. Viscoelastic properties of differentiating
cells evolve to meet tissue-specific functions. Dynamics of Tissues
and Multicellular Systems
. 14 Dec 2012, Leipzig, Germany.

Contributed Talks (International Conferences)

[5] Ekpenyong, AE, Whyte, GB, Chalut, KJ, Pagliara, S, Guck, JR, et
al. Contributions of actin and myosin to creep compliance of blood
stem cells during differentiation. Optical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation
X, SPIE NanoScience and Engineering. 28 Aug 2013,San Diego, USA.

[4] Ekpenyong, AE, Whyte, GB, Lautenschlaeger, F, Guck, JR, et al.Viscoelastic
properties of differentiating blood stem cells evolve to suit their functions.
Spring Meeting of the German Physical Society (DPG). 15
March 2013, Regensburg, Germany.

[3] Ekpenyong, AE,Whyte, GB, Chilvers, ER, Guck, JR, et al. Fate- and
function-dependent evolution of cellular mechanical properties during
myeloid haematopoiesis. 4th International Congress on Stem Cells
and Tissue Formation.
20 July 2012, Dresden, Germany.

Some Books

[2] Ekpenyong AE (2007) Basics of Physics for Senior Secondary Schools
3 Vols, Spectrum Books, Ibadan, Nigeria. 777 pages.

[1] Ekpenyong AE (2005) On the Many Faces of AIDS: Biblical, Medical,
and Moral Perspectives on HIV/AIDS. Temavic, Calabar, Nigeria.

AndrewEkpenyong Wed, 02/03/2016 - 17:51