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Danith Ly - Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA, US

Danith Ly

Professor | Carnegie Mellon University


Danith Ly's research is focused on the design and development of molecular tools and reagents to regulate gene expression.


For the past several years, Danith Ly's research 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 cells (ESC). He is particularly interested in dissecting the genetic blueprint of human ESC and addressing fundamental questions pertaining to the cellular origins of cancer. More recently, he has expanded his research program into other areas including protein design, tissue engineering and molecular self-assembly.

Areas of Expertise (7)

Stem Cells


Molecular Tools

Tissue Engineering

Cellular Origins of Cancer

Embryonic Development

Protein Design

Media Appearances (5)

Peptide nucleic acids progress for gene editing and antisense drugs

C&EN  online


Danith Ly of Carnegie Mellon University and his colleagues addressed this limitation in 2006 when they refashioned PNAs’ peptide backbones to improve their ability to bind selectively to nucleic acids (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2006, DOI: 10.1021/ja0625576). By simply adding a substituent like a hydroxymethyl group a few carbons down the peptide chain from the nucleobase—at the γ position—they changed PNAs’ shape from a randomly folded molecule to an ordered helix stabilized by base stacking.

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Molecular Converter Switches Genetic Information from Right- to Left-Handed

Carnegie Mellon University  online


In a step toward overcoming this obstacle, Danith Ly, a professor of chemistry at Carnegie Mellon, and colleagues at the Institute for Biomolecular Design and Discovery (IBD), invented a peptide nucleic acid-based molecular converter that can switch genetic information from its normal right-handed helical confirmation to a left-handed version. Researchers could use this left-handed molecule in molecular computing without having to worry about it binding with the host’s DNA.

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Synthetic molecule invades double-stranded DNA

EurekAlert!  online


The work was carried out by an international team of experts, including Carnegie Mellon Professor of Chemistry Danith Ly, an expert in peptide nucleic acid design, chemistry postdoc Shivaji Thadke and chemistry graduate student Dinithi Perera, Chemistry Professor and nuclear magnetic resonance expert Roberto Gil, and Arnab Mukherjee, a computer scientist at The Indian Institute of Science Education and Research at Pune.

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PNA gene editing technique cures beta-thalassemia in utero

Drug Target Review  online


“Early in embryonic development, there are a lot of stem cells dividing at a rapid pace. If we can go in and correct a genetic mutation early on, we could dramatically reduce the impact the mutation has on fetal development or even cure the condition,” said Professor Danith Ly, of chemistry in Carnegie Mellon’s Mellon College of Science.

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New gene-editing trick discovered just in time for J-Lo’s “CRISPR” TV series

The Washington Post  online


Glazer teamed with other scientists, including Danith Ly, a professor of chemistry at Carnegie Mellon, to develop a technique that takes synthetic genetic material — PNAs, for peptide nucleic acids — and injects it directly into the bloodstream of a mouse with a blood disease. The new study reports on the results of experiments on mice with the blood disease thalassemia, which is relatively common in humans and inhibits their levels of hemoglobin.

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COVID-19, One Year Later: Where Do We Go From Here?



Education (2)

Georgia Institute of Technology: Ph.D., Organic Chemistry

Georgia Institute of Technology: B.S., Chemical Engineering