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Zhangli Peng
Zhangli Peng, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Center for Bioinformatics and Quantitative Biology

Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering

University of Illinois Chicago

Mailing Address: 820 South Wood Street, MC 563, Chicago, IL 60612 

Building & Room: Clinical Science North (CSN) 164F

Office Phone: (312) 996-7467




Postdoc, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Subra Suresh/Ming Dao lab)

Ph.D., University of California San Diego (Qiang Zhu Lab)


Notable Honors:

2024, NSF CAREER Award, National Science Foundation (NSF)

2023, ASH Scholar Award, American Society of Hematology (ASH)


Research Interests: Multiscale Modeling of Soft Biological Materials; Microstructure-based Modeling of Cells, Organelles, Molecules, and Tissues; Modeling of Microfluidics, Nanofluidics, and Finite-Reynolds-Number Flows.


My research focuses on multiscale modeling of soft biological materials, with an emphasize on biophysics of cells in their natural or engineered microenvironment. My research directions include microstructure-based biomechanical analysis of molecules/organelles/cells/tissues, red blood cell mechanics, primary cilia,  dynamics of DNA/RNA/structural proteins, blood vessel walls, microfluidics, and nanofluidics. Specifically, a major current goal of my group is to apply multiscale modeling to predict how mutations and modifications of cytoskeletal proteins and other structural proteins affect the biomechanics and mechanobiology of cells, organelles, and tissues in their natural or engineered microenvironment. For example, we have been studying the processes of cells passing through extremely small gaps such as inter-endothelial slits in spleens, bone marrows, and lungs. The multiscale modeling can also be applied to understand the mechanisms of related diseases such as hematologic disorders, malaria, ciliopathies, laminopathies, and cancer metastasis. In pursuit of this goal, the objective of my group is to integrate atomistic-based simulations such as all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) and coarse-grained dissipative particle dynamics (DPD) with continuum-based modeling approaches such as finite element method (FEM), boundary element method (BEM), and smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) to model the cell-microenvironment interactions starting from the molecular scales, and to work closely with experimental collaborators for validations and hypothesis testing. My group is also applying multiphysics modeling to help develop deformation-based, inertial-based, acoustic-based, thermal-based, electrical-based microfluidic/nanofluidic devices for disease diagnostics and biotechnologies. In addition, I also studied several types of bio-inspired structures, including a flow energy harvester of flapping foils inspired by fish swimming, nacre shells, and tensegrity structures.

Publications Heading link


  1. Giuseppe Lauricella; Naderi, Mohammad Moein; Zhou, Jian; Papautsky, Ian;  Zhangli Peng. Bifurcations in equilibrium positions for ellipsoidal particles in inertial shear flows between two walls. Journal of Fluid Mechanics. 984 A47. 2024. pdf
  2. Nima  Mostafazadeh and Zhangli Peng. Microstructure-based nuclear lamina constitutive model. Cytoskeleton.  2024:1:24. 2024. pdf Also available on bioRxiv
  3. Alexis Moreau, Francois Yaya, Huije Lu, Anagha Surendranath, Anne Charrier, Benoit Dehapiot, Emmanuele Helfer, Annie Viallat, and Zhangli Peng. Physical mechanisms of red blood cell splenic filtration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A., 120(44):e2300095120, 2023. pdf.    UIC news,   Youtube (presentation)
  4. Amitabha Mukhopadhyay, Yoshikazu Tsukasaki, Wan Ching Chan, Jonathan P Le, Man Long Kwok, Jian Zhou, Viswanathan Natarajan, Nima Mostafazadeh, Mark Maienschein-Cline, Ian Papautsky, Chinnaswamy Tiruppathi, Zhangli Peng, Jalees Rehman, Yulia Komarova and Asrar B. Malik. Trans-Endothelial Neutrophil Migration Activates Bactericidal Function via Piezo1 Mechanosensing. Immunity (IF43.47), 2023. pdf  highlighted in Nature Reviews Immunology  as ‘Squeeze to arm’.
  5. Spencer Borbas, Kevin Shen, Catherine Ji, Annie Viallat, Emmanuelle Helfer, Zhangli Peng. Transit Time Theory for a Droplet Passing Through a Slit in Pressure-Driven Low-Reynolds-Number Flows. Micromachines.14(11), 2040, 2023. pdf
  6. Angela Mitevska, C. Santacruz, E. J. Martin, I. E. Jones, A. Ghiacy, S. Dixon, N. Mostafazadeh, Z. Peng, E. Kiskinis, and D. Finan. Polyurethane culture substrates enable long term neuron monoculture in a human in vitro model of neurotrauma. Neurotrauma Reports. 4:682, 2023. pdf
  7. Sara Cardona, Nima Mostafazadeh, Qiyue Luan, Jian Zhou, Zhangli Peng, Ian Papautsky. Numerical Modeling of Physical Cell Trapping in Microfluidic Chips. Micromachines. 14:1665. 2023. pdf
  8. Nima  Mostafazadeh, Andrew Resnick, Y.-N. Young, and Zhangli Peng. Microstructure-based modeling of primary cilia mechanics. Cytoskeleton. 2024. Also available at bioRxiv (2023): 2023-07.
  9. Zhengxin Tang, François Yaya, Ethan Sun, Lubna Shah, Jie Xu, Annie Viallat, Emmanuèle Helfer, Zhangli Peng. 2023. Analytical theory for a droplet squeezing through a circular pore in creeping flows under constant pressures. Physics of Fluids. 35:082016. 2023. pdf
  10. Hua Gao, Jian Zhou, Moein Naderi, Zhangli Peng, Ian Papautsky. Evolution of Focused Streams in Viscoelastic Flow in Spiral Microchannels Microsystems & Nanoengineering. 9(1), 73. 2023. pdf
  11. Mohammad Moein Naderi, Ludovica Barilla, Jian Zhou, Ian Papautsky*, Zhangli Peng*, Elasto-Inertial Focusing Mechanisms of Particles in Shear-Thinning Viscoelastic Fluid in Rectangular Microchannels. Micromachines. 13:2131. 2022pdf
  12. Cho IS, Gupta P, Mostafazadeh N, Wong SW, Saichellappa S, Lenzini S, Peng Z, and Shin JW. Deterministic single cell encapsulation in asymmetric microenvironments to direct cell polarity. Advanced Science. 2206014. pdf
  13. Giuseppe Lauricella, Jian Zhou, Qiyue Luan, Ian Papautsky, and Zhangli Peng.  Computational study of inertial migration of prolate particles in a straight rectangular channel. Physics of Fluids. Featured Article.  34: 082021, 2022; newspdf
  14. Shuo Ma, Muhao Chen, Zhangli Peng, Xingfei Yuan, Robert E. Skelton. The Equilibrium and Form-Finding of General Tensegrity Systems with Rigid Bodies, Engineering Structures.  266 :114618, 2022. pdf
  15. Antoni Garcia-Herreros, Yi-Ting Yeh, Zhangli Peng, Juan del Álamo. Cyclic mechanical stresses alter erythrocyte membrane composition and microstructure and trigger macrophage phagocytosis. Advanced Science. 9:2201481, 2022. pdf
  16. Antonio Perazzo*, Zhangli Peng*, Y-N Young, Zhe Feng, David K Wood, John M Higgins, Howard A Stone. The effect of rigid cells on blood viscosity: linking rheology and sickle cell anemia. Soft Matter. 18(3):554-565, 2022. (*Contributed equally) news pdf
  17. Timothy Leong, Chandhana Voleti and Zhangli Peng. Coarse-Grained Modeling of Coronavirus Spike Proteins and ACE2 Receptors. Frontiers in Physics.9:1-9. doi:10.3389/fphy.2021.680983. 2021.  news pdf
  18. Zhangli Peng, Andy Resnick, Yuan-Nan Young. Primary Cilium: A Paradigm for Integrating Mathematical Modeling with Experiments and Numerical Simulations in Mechanobiology, Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering. 18(2): 1215–1237. 2021. pdf
  19. Arjun Attri, Deepak Thakur,  Taranpreet Kaur, Sebastian Sensale,  Zhangli Peng, Deepak Kumar, Raman Preet Singh, Nanoparticles incorporating a fluorescence turn-on reporter for real-time drug release monitoring, a chemoenhancer and a stealth agent: Poseidon’s trident against cancer? Molecular Pharmaceutics, 18:124−147. 2021 pdf
  20. Zhe Feng, Richard Waugh and Zhangli Peng, Constitutive Model of Erythrocyte Membranes with Distributions of Spectrin Orientations and Lengths, Biophysical Journal, 119:2190-2204, 2020. pdf
  21. Yijie Liu, Yang Mei, Xu Han, Farida V Korobova, Miguel A Prado, Jing Yang, Zhangli Peng, Joao Paulo, Steven Gygi, Daniel Finley, Peng Ji. Membrane skeleton modulates erythroid proteome remodeling and organelle clearance. Blood. 137(3):398-409. 2020. pdf
  22. Jian Zhou, Zhangli Peng, Ian Papautsky. Mapping inertial migration in the cross-section of a microfluidic channel with high speed imaging, Microsystems & Nanoengineering. 6:105, 2020 pdf
  23. Sing Wan Wong, Raymond Bargi, Zhe Feng, Celine Macaraniag, James C. Lee, Zhangli Peng, and Jae-Won Shin, Controlled deposition of three-dimensional matrices to direct single cell functions. Advanced Science. 7(20): 20. 2020. pdf
  24. Justin Flaherty, Zhe Feng, Yuan-Nan Young, Zhangli Peng, and Andrew Resnick. Primary cilia have a length-dependent persistence length. Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology. 19:445–460, 2020. pdf
  25. Sebastian Sensale, Zhangli Peng, and H.Chia Chang. Biphasic signals during nanopore translocation of DNA and nanoparticles due to strong ion cloud deformation. Nanoscale, 11(47):22772-22779. 2019. pdf
  26. Huijie Lu and Zhangli Peng. Boundary integral simulations of a red blood cell squeezing through a submicron slit under prescribed inlet and outlet pressures, Physics of Fluids, 31:031902, 2019. (featured as Editor’s choice). news pdf
  27. Sebastian Sensale, Zhangli Peng, and H.Chia Chang. Acceleration of DNA Melting Kinetics Using Alternating Electric Fields. Journal of Chemical Physics,149(8):085102, 2018. pdf
  28. Xuejin Li, Huijie Lu, and Zhangli Peng, Continuum- and Particle-based Modeling of Human Red Blood Cells. Handbook of Materials Modeling – Applications: Current and Emerging Materials, Edition: 4, Chapter: 11 1-16, Springer, 2018. pdf
  29. Sebastian Sensale, Zhangli Peng and H.-C. Chang. Kinetic theory for DNA melting with vibrational entropy, Journal of Chemical Physics, 147:135101. 2017. pdf
  30. Yan Bao, Dai Zhou, J.J. Tao, Zhangli Peng, H.B. Zhu, Z.L. Sun, and H.L. Tong, Dynamic interference of two anti-phase flapping foils in side-by-side arrangement in an incompressible flow. Physics of Fluids, 29:033601, 2017. pdf
  31. Igor V. Pivkin*, Zhangli Peng*, George Em Karniadakis, Pierre A Buffet, Ming Dao, and Subra Suresh. Biomechanics of red blood cells in human spleen and consequences for physiology and disease. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A., 113 (28) 7804-7809, 2016. (* Contributed equally). pdf news
  32. Szu-Pei Fu, Zhangli Peng, Hongyan Yuan,R. Kfoury, and Y.-N. Young, Lennard-Jones type pair-potential method for coarse-grained lipid bilayer membrane simulations in LAMMPS. Computer Physics Communications, 210:193-203. pdf
  33. Zhangli Peng, On-Shun Pak, Allen Liu, and Yuan-Nan Young. On the gating of mechanosensitive channels by fluid shear stress. Acta Mechanica Sinica, 32: 1012–1022. 2016. pdf
  34. Alexandra Witthoft, Alireza Yazdani, Zhangli Peng, Chiara Bellini, Jay D. Humphrey and George Em Karniadakis. A discrete mesoscopic particle model of the mechanics of a multi-constituent arterial wall. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 13: 20150964, 2015 pdf
  35. Zhangli Peng, Yeng-Long Chen, Huijie Lu, Zehao Pan, Hsueh-Chia Chang. Mesoscale simulations of two model systems in biophysics: from red blood cells to DNAs. Computational Particle Mechanics, 4:339-357, 2015 pdf
  36. Peng Li, Zhangming Mao, Zhangli Peng, Lanlan Zhou, Yuchao Chen , Po-Hsun Huang , Cristina I. Truica, Joseph J. Drabick, Wafik S. El-Deiry, Ming Dao, Subra Suresh, and Tony Jun Huang. Acoustic Separation of Circulating Tumor Cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. 112:4970–4975. 2015 pdf News
  37. Zhangli Peng, Sara Salehyar and Qiang Zhu. Stability of the Tank Treading Modes of Erythrocytes and Its Dependence on Cytoskeleton Reference States. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 771:449–467. 2015, pdf.
  38. Xiaoyun Ding*, Zhangli Peng*, Sz-Chin Steven Lin, Michela Geri, Sixing Li, Peng Li, Yuchao Chen, Ming Dao, Subra Suresh and Tony Jun Huang. Cell Separation Using Tilted-Angle Standing Surface Acoustic Waves. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A., 111 (36) 12992-12997, 2014. (*Contributed equally). pdf, news
  39. Xuejin Li, Zhangli Peng, Huai Lei, Ming Dao and George Em Karniadakis. Probing red blood cell mechanics, rheology and dynamics with a two-component multi-scale model. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. 372(2021): 20130389, 2014. pdf
  40. Zhangli Peng, Adel Mashayekh, and Qiang Zhu. Erythrocyte responses in low shear rate flows – effects of non-biconcave stress-free state in cytoskeleton. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 742:96-118, 2014. pdf
  41. Zhangli Peng, Xuejin Li, Igor V. Pivkin, Ming Dao, George Em Karniadakis, and Subra Suresh. Lipid-bilayer and cytoskeletal interactions in a red blood cell. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A., 110:13356-13361, 2013. pdf
  42. Zhangli Peng, and Qiang Zhu. Deformation of the erythrocyte cytoskeleton in tank treading motions. Soft Matter, 9:7617-7627, 2013. pdf
  43. HeeSu Byun, Timothy R. Hillman, John M. Higgins, Monica Diez-Silva, Zhangli Peng, Ming Dao, Ramachandra R. Dasari, Subra Suresh, and YongKeun Park. Optical measurement of biomechanical properties of individual erythrocytes from a sickle cell patient. Acta Biomaterialia, 8:4130-4138, 2012. pdf
  44. Mythili Aingaran*, Rou Zhang*, Sue Law*, Zhangli Peng*, Evan Meyer, Monica Diez-Silva, Christof Gruering, Luis Ibanez, Tobias Spielmann, Chwee Teck Lim, Subra Suresh, Ming Dao and Matthias Marti. Host cell deformability is linked to transmission in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Cellular Microbiology, 14:983-993, 2012. (Featured as Editors’s Choice, *Contributed equally) pdf
  45. Zhangli Peng, Robert J. Asaro, and Qiang Zhu. Multiscale modelling of erythrocytes in Stokes flow. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 686: 299-337, 2011. pdf
  46. Jiddu Bezares, Zhangli Peng, Robert J. Asaro, and Qiang Zhu. Macromolecular structure and viscoelastic response of the organic framework of nacre in Haliotis rufescens: a perspective and overview. Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, 38: 75-106, 2011. pdf
  47. Zhangli Peng, Robert J. Asaro, and Qiang Zhu. Multiscale modeling of erythrocyte membranes. Physical Review E, 81: 031904, 2010. pdf
  48. Zhangli Peng and Qiang Zhu. Energy harvesting through flow-induced oscillations of a foil. Physics of Fluids, 21: 123602, 2009. pdf
  49. Qiang Zhu and Zhangli Peng. Mode coupling and flow energy harvesting by a flapping foil. Physics of Fluids, 21: 033601, 2009. pdf
  50. Xingfei Yuan, Zhangli Peng and Shilin Dong, Baojun Zhao. A new tensegrity module -“Torus”. Advances in Structural Engineering, 11: 243-251, 2008. pdf
  51. Xingfei Yuan, Zhangli Peng, Shilin Dong. Study and application of tensegrity torus. China Civil Engineering Journal, 41: 8-13, 2008.
  52. Xingfei Yuan, Zhangli Peng and Shilin Dong. Load-carrying capacity of welded hollow spherical joints subject to combined planar tri-directional axial force and bending moment. Journal of Zhejiang University (Engineering Science), 41: 1436-1442, 2007.
  53. Zhangli Peng, Xingfei Yuan and Shilin Dong. Tensegrity torus. Spatial Structures, 13: 60-64, 2007.





News Heading link

April 29 2024

Angela Mitevska (supervised by Assistant Professor Zhangli Peng) Won Second Place Undergraduate Poster Presentation in the 6th annual research symposium

6th annual research symposium held in Chicago Medical District

April 25 2024

Zhangli Peng receives NSF CAREER award to investigate how cells pass through pores


April 11 2024

BME students publish work in leading fluid mechanics journal

Some of the original notable research on initial inertial focusing was published in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics, where Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering graduate alumnus Giuseppe Lauricella, PhD student Moein Naderi, Assistant Professor Zhangli Peng, Richard and Loan Hill Professor Ian Papautsky, and Research Assistant Professor Jian Zhou recently had a paper published.


January 03 2024

Giuseppe Lauricella received the Graduate College’s annual Outstanding Thesis and Dissertation Award. The award was given in recognition of his master’s thesis “Computational Study of Inertial Migration of Prolate Particles in a Straight Rectangular Channel.”

UIC graduate students receive Outstanding Thesis and Dissertation Award

October 28 2023

New PNAS paper reveals how a human spleen works.

New PNAS paper reveals how a human spleen works


August 01 2023

Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor Zhangli Peng recruited recent graduates Lubna Shah and Zhengxin Tang from his Biotransport class to assist him in his research, which was officially published in the Physics of Fluids journal on August 18, 2023. Their research analyzed the passage of a droplet through a circular pore. Specifically, they aimed to determine a more exact solution for how the transit time of a droplet changes with pore dimensions. Peng had been working on this topic prior to Shah and Tang joining him. Both students were supported by grants from the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and the NSF Center for Advanced Design and Manufacturing of Integrated Microfluidics (CADMIM), a partnership between the University of Illinois Chicago and the University of California Irvine.

BME undergraduates sponsored by NSF published in leading journal in fluid mechanics

May 01 2023

Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor Zhangli Peng has received a three-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant titled “Mechanisms of Terminal Erythroid Enucleation.” As the Principal Investigator, the $600,000 and €251,200 project will help Peng and his collaborative research team to better understand how red blood cells are generated through the process of erythropoiesis.

International collaboration will advance understanding of how red blood cells are generated

March 07 2023

Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor and member of the Center for Bioinformatics and Quantitative Biology Zhangli Peng has received the American Society of Hematology 2023 Junior Faculty Scholar Award. Peng was one of 19 junior faculty recipients to win the award. As one of the most prestigious research award programs, the honor recognizes junior faculty dedicating a career to hematology research and funds basic, translational, and clinical research that furthers the understanding and treatment of blood disorders.

Peng wins junior faculty award from American Society of Hematology

Feb 08 2023

A joint research paper published by Zhangli Peng, an assistant professor, and Ian Papautsky, a Richard and Loan Hill Professor, in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and their teams studied the effects of flowrate, the speed at which fluid moves, particle size, and the shear-thinning extent of the fluid on separating and focusing particles in viscoelastic fluids.

Paper explores physical mechanisms of particle separation in viscoelastic fluids and its optimization

August 19, 2022

To better understand how different shaped particles flow within inertial microfluidics, a UIC Engineering research team – composed of biomedical engineering Master student Giuseppe Lauricella from Politecnico di Milano under the supervision of Assistant Professor Zhangli Peng at UIC, Research Assistant Professor Jian Zhou and Ph.D. student Qiyue Luan from the lab of Richard and Loan Hill Professor Ian Papautsky – conducted a systematic investigation of non-spherical particles.

Study unlocks new information on ellipsoidal particles

April 15, 2022

Undergraduate student Lubna Shah from Assistant Professor Zhangli Peng’s lab won 2nd place in Poster Presentation in the  4th Annual Research Symposium in the Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Undergraduate student Timothy Leong from Assistant Professor Zhangli Peng’s lab won 3rd place in Poster Presentation in the  4th Annual Research Symposium in the Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Master student Giuseppe Lauricella from Assistant Professor Zhangli Peng’s lab won 2nd place in Oral Presentation in the  4th Annual Research Symposium in the Richard and Loan Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Jan 12, 2022

Researchers investigate impact of viscosity on sickle cell anemia


November 19, 2021

PhD student Moein Naderi from Assistant Professor Zhangli Peng’s lab took home the Best Poster Presentation award for his work titled “Computational Modeling of Elasto-Inertial Focusing of Particles.

CBQB hosts first annual research day


June 08, 2021

Bioengineers design coronavirus model

Bioengineers design coronavirus model


January 06, 2021

Peng to develop mathematical models to investigate cilia in mammal cells

Peng to develop mathematical models to investigate cilia in mammal cells


December 10, 2020

BioE researchers look to unlock the secrets of red blood cell membranes

BioE researchers look to unlock the secrets of red blood cell membranes