Primary Faculty

Nicole F. Steinmetz, Ph.D.

Nicole F. Steinmetz, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Office: 509 Wickenden Building
Phone: (216) 368-5590
Fax: (216) 368-4969
Mail Address: Room 309 Wickenden Building 2071 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive Cleveland, OH 44106-7207

Selected Links:

Steinmetz Laboratory




Dr. Steinmetz is Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, where she is leading a research lab at the interface of bio-inspired, molecular engineering approaches and biomedical research and materials science. Dr. Steinmetz trained at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA (AHA and NIH post-doctoral fellow), John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK (PhD in Bionanotechnology), and RWTH-Aachen University in Germany (Masters in Molecular Biotechnology). In 2011, Dr. Steinmetz was named Mt. Sinai Scholar, she is a 2009 recipient of the NIH/NIBIB Pathway to Independence Grant (K99/R00), a previous American Heart Association Post-doctoral Fellow, (2008-2009) and former Marie Curie EST Fellow. (2004-2007) Dr. Steinmetz serves on the Editorial Board of Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (WIREs) and the Advisory Editorial Board for the ACS journal Molecular Pharmaceutics. Dr. Steinmetz has chaired symposia at ACS and MRS; she is the Session Chair for the Protein and Viral Nanoparticle Track at FNANO and the Chair (Co-Chair Trevor Douglas) of the Gordon Conference of Physical Virology (2015). Dr. Steinmetz has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, reviews, and book chapters; she has authored and edited books on Virus-based nanotechnology. Research in the Steinmetz Lab is funded through grants from National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, Ohio Cancer Research Associates, American Cancer Society, and Department of Energy.


Research Statement:

The Steinmetz Lab’s mission is to push to new frontiers in biomaterials science and medicine through design, development, and testing of novel nano-scale bio-inspired materials using plant virus-based scaffolds.

Dr. Steinmetz is leading an interdisciplinary research program interfacing bio-inspired, molecular engineering approaches with biomedical research and materials science. We are devising bottom-up, bio-templated synthetic approaches toward the scalable fabrication of multifunctional assemblies for applications in: 

Cancer/Cardiovascular NanoTechnology 

  • MRI contrast agents for diagnosis and prognosis of oncological and cardiovascular diseases
  • drug delivery systems targeting cancer and thrombosis
  • cancer vaccines and immunotherapies 

BioNanoScience and NanoManufacturing

  • self-assembled heterofunctional biomolecular materials 
  • polymer:nanoparticle conjugates 
  • bio-inspired tools for diagnostics and sensing

Sizing and shaping of nanostructured features with temporal and spatial control is a key opportunity to produce the next-generation of higher-performing products with diverse applications. In the medical sector, nanoparticles are advantageous (over single molecules) because their large surface-area-to-volume ratio allows functionalization with large payloads and of targeting ligands to ensure tissue-specific delivery, labels for tracking or disease imaging, and drugs or epitopes for therapy. In materials science, nanostructured materials are advantageous (over bulk material) because at the nanoscale unique properties and phenomena are observed. For example, metamaterials are those that gain their properties based on their organized structure, rather than from the materials properties of their individual components. 

 A quintessential tenet in nanotechnology is the self-assembly of several functional components into a single system, such as a tissue-targeted drug delivery system. Nanoscale self-assembly is a technique that nature masters with atomic precision; genetic programming provides the highest achievable reproducibility. Therefore, we turned toward the study and application of nature’s nanomaterials, specifically the structures formed by plant viruses. Plant viruses come in many shapes and sizes but most species form highly uniform structures. The production of plant virus-based nanocarriers is highly scalable and economic through molecular farming in plants. Viruses have naturally evolved to deliver cargos to specific cells and tissues; and the medical research thrust in my laboratory is aimed at understanding these natural properties for effectively tailoring cargo and tissue-specificity for applications in drug delivery and tissue-specific imaging. Furthermore, virus-based nanoparticles (VNPs) have an intrinsic propensity to self-assemble into discrete nanoparticles as well as higher-order, mesoscale assemblies; within the materials science focused research thrust, we seek to exploit these phenomena for the fabrication of novel biomolecular materials.



Selected peer-reviewed research papers (from 50+): 

  • Bruckman, M.A.*, Yu, X., Steinmetz, N.F. Engineering Gd-loaded nanoparticles to enhance MRI sensitivity. Nanotechnology, Epub ahead of press. *trainee
  • Bruckman M.A.*, Randolph L.*, van Meter A.*, Hern, S.*, Shoffstall, A.J., Taurog, R.E., Steinmetz N.F. Biodistribution of rod-shaped and spherical tobacco mosaic virus in mice. Virology, Epub ahead of press. *trainee
  • Rehor, I., Slegerova, J., Kucka, J., Proks, V., Petrakova, V., Adam, M.P., Treussart, F., Turner, S., Bals, S., Ledvina, L. Wen, A.M.*, Steinmetz, N.F., Cigler, P., Shape Normalization of Fluorescent Nanodiamonds by Biocompatible Translucent Shells, Small, Epub ahead of press. *trainee
  • Lee, K.L.*, Hubbard, L., Hern, S.*, Yildiz, I.*, Gratzl, M.G., Steinmetz, N.F. (2013)Shape matters: the diffusion rates of TMV rods and CPMV icosahedrons in a spheroid model of extracellular matrix are distinct, Biomaterials Science, in press. * trainee
  • Yildiz, I.*, Lee K.L.*, Chen, K.*, Steinmetz, N.F. Infusion of imaging and therapeutic molecules into the plant virus-based carrier cowpea mosaic virus: cargo-loading and in vitro delivery, Journal of Controlled Release, Epub ahead of press. *trainee
  • Shukla, S.*, Wen, A.M.*, Ayat, N.R.*, Commandeur, U., Gopalkrishnan R., Broome,A.-M., Lozada, K., Keri, R.A., Steinmetz, N.F. (2013) Biodistribution and clearance of a filamentous plant virus in healthy and tumor-bearing mice. Nanomedicine, Epub ahead of press. *trainee
  • Wen, A.M.*, Rambhia, P.*, French, R.H., Steinmetz, N.F. (2013) Design rules for nanomedical engineering: from physical virology to the applications of virus-based materials in medicine. Physical Biology, Epub ahead of press. *trainee
  • Bruckman, M.A.*, Jiang, K., Hern S.*, Flask, C., Yu, X., Steinmetz, N.F. (2013) Tobacco mosaic virus rods and spheres as supramolecular high-relaxivity MRI contrast agents. Journal of Materials Chemistry B, 1, 1482-1490. *trainee
  • Aljabali, A.A.A.#, Shukla, S.#*, Lomonossoff, G.P., Steinmetz, N.F., Evans, D.J. (2013) CPMV-DOX delivers. Molecular Pharmaceutics, 10, 3-10. #both authors contributed equally, *trainee
  • Shukla, S.*, Ablack, A.L., Wen, A.M.*, Lee, K.L.*, Lewis, J.D., Steinmetz, N.F. (2013) Increased tumor homing and tissue penetration of the filamentous plant viral nanoparticle potato virus X. Molecular Pharmaceutics, 10, 33-43. * trainees.
  • Wen, A.M.*, Shukla, S.*, Saxena, P., Aljabali, A.A.A., Yildiz, I.*, Sourav, D.*, Mealy, J.*, Yang, A.*, Evans, D.J., Lomonossoff, G.P., Steinmetz, N.F. (2012) Interior engineering of a viral nanoparticle and its tumor homing properties, Biomacromolecules, 13, 3990-4001. *trainee
  • Wen, A.M.*, Lee, K.L.*, Yildiz, I.*, Bruckman, M.A.*, Shukla, S.*, Steinmetz, N.F. (2012) Viral nanoparticles for in vivo tumor imaging. Journal of Visualized Experiments, e4352. *trainee
  • Aljabali, A.A.A., Barclay, J.E., Steinmetz, N.F.,Lomonossoff, G.P., Evans, D.J. (2012) Controlled immobilisation of active enzymes on the cowpea mosaic virus capsid. Nanoscale, 4, 5640-5645.
  • Wen, A.M.*, Ryan, M.J.*, Yang, A.C.*, Breitenkamp, K., Pokorski, J.K., Steinmetz N.F. (2012) Photodynamic activity of viral nanoparticles conjugated with C60. Chemical Communications, 48, 9044-9046. *trainees. 
  • Hovlid M.L., Steinmetz, N.F., Laufer B., Lau J.L., Kuzelka, J., Wang, Q., Hyypia, T., Nemerow, G.R., Kessler, H., Manchester, M., Finn, M.G. (2012) Guiding Plant Virus Particles to Integrin-Displaying Cells. Nanoscale, 4, 3698-3705.
  • Wu, Z.*, Chen, K.*, Yildiz, I.*, Dirksen, A., Fischer, R. Dawson, P.E., Steinmetz, N.F. (2012) Development of viral nanoparticles for efficient intracellular delivery, Nanoscale, 4, 3698-3705. * trainees ** Cover article.
  • Taghavian, O., Mandal, M.K., Steinmetz, N.F., Rasche, S., Spiegel, H., Fischer R., Schillberg, S. (2012) A potential nanobiotechnology platform based on infectious bursal disease subviral particles, RSC Advances, 2, 1970-1978.
  • Yildiz, I.*, Tvestkova, I., Wen, A.W.*, Shukla, S.*, Masarapu, H., Dragnea, B., Steinmetz N.F. (2012) Engineering Brome mosaic virus for biomedical applications, RSC Advances, 2, 3670-3677. *trainees
  •  Steinmetz N.F., Maurer, J., Sheng H, Bensussan, A, Marcic, I., Kumar, V., Braciak, T. (2011) Two domains of vimentin are expressed on the surface of lymph node, bone and brain metastatic prostate cancer lines along with the putative stem cell marker proteins CD44 and CD133. Cancers, 3, 2870-2885.


  • Viral Nanoparticles: Tools for Materials Science and Biomedicine. Authored by Steinmetz, N.F. & Manchester, M. 2011, Pan Stanford Publishing, Singapore.
  • Viruses and Nanotechnology in Current Topics of Microbiology and Immunology, edited by Manchester, M. & Steinmetz, N.F, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, Germany. 


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