Research Interests:

Prof. Bansil’s research interests are in Biophysics and Soft Matter/ Polymer Physics. Her work in soft matter was focused on studying gelation and phase transitions in gels and other polymers using light, X-ray and neutron scattering techniques and simulations.

The research in Biological Physics focuses on understanding the biophysical properties of gastric mucin, the glycoprotein that is responsible for the protective and viscoelastic function of the mucus lining of the stomach. Bansil and her collaborators showed that gelation of mucin at low pH is an important factor in protecting the stomach from digesting itself. The current project (funded by NIH) focuses on how acid is transported across the mucus barrier and how Helicobacter Pylori, the bacterium which causes gastritis, gastric ulcers, and can lead to stomach cancer, gets across the mucus gel to colonize on the epithelial cell surface of the stomach. Using rheological and time-resolved optical microscopic imaging methods they have shown that the urease mediated hydrolysis of urea by H. pylori triggers a gel to sol transition of mucin enabling it to swim across the mucus barrier. Their work evaluates the role of bacterial cell shape in swimming and in colonizing on the epithelial surface by combining live-cell microscopic tracking experiments with hydrodynamic modeling and simulation. They apply microfluidic methods to investigate the chemotaxis of H. pylori in chemical and pH gradients. The research program involves multidisciplinary collaborations with scientists and clinicians in USA and abroad. Prof. Bansil has trained numerous graduate and undergraduate students in Physics, Chemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology, Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering.

Selected Publications:

1. Maira A. Constantino, Mehdi Jabbarzadeh, Henry C. Fu, Zeli Shen, James G. Fox, Freddy Haesebrouck, Sara Lindén and Rama Bansil “Bipolar lophotrichous Helicobacter suis combine extended and wrapped flagella bundles to exhibit multiple modes of motility” Scientific Reports, Article No. 14415, 2018.

2. Clover Su, Médea Padra, Maira Alves Constantino, Sinan Sharba, Anders Thorell, Sara K. Lindén and Rama Bansil “Influence of viscosity of healthy and diseased human mucins on motility of Helicobacter pylori” Scientific Reports (2018) Article No. 9710.

3. Rama Bansil and Bradley S. Turner “The biology of mucus: composition, synthesis and organization” Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews. 124 (2018) 3–15

Available online: 29-SEP-2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.addr.2017.09.023

4. Maira A. Constantino, Mehdi Jabbarzadeh, Henry C. Fu, Rama Bansil “Helical and rod-shaped bacteria swim in helical trajectories with little additional propulsion from helical shape.” Sci. Adv. 2, e1601661 (2016).

5. Laura E. Martinez, Joseph M. Hardcastle, Jeffrey Wang, Zachary Pincus, Jennifer Tsang, Timothy R. Hoover, Rama Bansil and Nina R. Salama “Helicobacter pylori strains vary cell shape parameters and flagella number to maintain robust motility in viscous environments” Mol. Microbiol. 2016 Jan;99(1):88-110. doi: 10.1111/mmi.13218. Epub 2015 Oct 14.

6. Rama Bansil, Joseph Hardcastle and Maira Constantino “Microrheology of mucin: tracking particles and Helicobacter pylori bacteria” Epitőanyag– Journal of Silicate Based and Composite Materials, Vol. 67, No. 4 (2015), 150 – 154 http://dx.doi.org/10.14382/epitoanyag-jsbcm.2015.25

7. Rama Bansil, Jonathan Celli, Joseph Hardcastle and Bradley Turner,

“The influence of mucus microstructure and rheology in H. pylori infection” Frontiers in Mucosal Immunity. 4, 00310, 2013. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2013.00310

8. J. P. Celli, B. S. Turner, N. H. Afdhal, S. Keates, I. Ghiran, C. P Kelly, R. H. Ewoldt, G. H. McKinley, P. T. C. So, S. Erramilli, R. Bansil “Helicobacter pylori moves through mucus by reducing mucin viscoelasticity” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci 106, 14321-14326 (2009). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0903438106

9 X. Cao, R. Bansil, K. R. Bhaskar, B. S. Turner, J. T. LaMont and N. Afdhal, “pH-dependent Conformational Change Leads to Sol-Gel Transition of Gastric Mucin” Biophysical Journal 76, 1250-1258 1999.

10. K. R. Bhaskar, B. S. Turner, P. Garik, J. D. Bradley, R. Bansil, H. E. Stanley and J. T. LaMont “Viscous Fingering of HCl Through Gastric Mucin,” Nature, 360, 458-461 (1992). DOI:10.1038/360458a0.

Recent Publications


  • Junior Faculty Fellow American Cancer Society (1979-82)
  • Fellow and Science Scholar at Bunting Institute, Radcliffe College, Harvard University (1993-94).
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society.

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