Nagendran Tharmalingam

Nagendran Tharmalingam, MS, MLT, PhD

Assistant Research Professor of Medicine, Academic Institute
Assistant Research Member, Research Institute
Houston Methodist
Weill Cornell Medical College


I began my career in 2003 as a Medical Lab Technician and pursued Microbiology during my bachelor's and master's degrees. My research encompasses various therapeutic approaches, including the development of novel antibacterials, repurposing FDA-approved molecules, and the synthesis of hybrid molecules targeting pathogenic bacterial agents. Primarily, my work revolves around infectious diseases and the pursuit of innovative therapeutics against bacterial pathogens.

During my career development journey, I received training in India, South Korea, and the USA. In particular, I honed my expertise in medical bacteriology and biomedical science at Yonsei University in South Korea (ranked #3 in South Korea, 76 worldwide) and conducted my dissertation on novel therapeutics against H. pylori-induced gastric cancer. After obtaining my Ph.D., I joined Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital for my Postdoctoral studies. During this period, my research focused on antibacterial therapies and the use of vertebrate and invertebrate infection models in the Mylonakis laboratory.

Following my Postdoc, I joined as an Instructor of Medicine at Brown University (ranked #60 worldwide) and research scientist at The Miriam Hospital, where I led projects as Principal Investigator. Starting in March 2024, I have been working as an Assistant Research Professor of Medicine at Houston Methodist Academic Institute.

To date, my research efforts have resulted in 35 peer-reviewed publications, including articles in reputable journals such as ACS Nano, Carbohydrate Polymers, Future Medicinal Chemistry, Frontiers in Microbiology, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, and Scientific Reports. My research encompasses a wide range of activities, including screening, compound discovery, target validation, and exploration of lead compounds. Throughout my years of training, I have gained extensive experience working with medically important microbial pathogens, including Helicobacter pylori and Staphylococcus aureus, using in vivo murine infection models.

Description of Research

1. Drug repurposing. I discovered that niclosamide, an antihelminthic compound, could inhibit Helicobacter pylori (PMC5829259) in acidic pH and we patented it (US11419834B2). Although H. pylori previously developed resistance against standard antibiotics such as clarithromycin and metronidazole, niclosamide-resistance was not found after continuous exposure.

I also explored other drugs to repurpose against bacterial infection. We reported auranofin (PMID: 31298580), diflunisal (PMID: 28652232). We reported auranofin-coated catheters (PMID: 30873389), determined to deter biofilm formation and bacterial accumulation

2. Antibacterial activity of natural compounds against Helicobacter pylori: Since herbal spices contain a wealth of bioactive compounds, I investigated the utility of some of those bioactive compounds against the H. pylori bacterium. Specifically, I have used the active biomolecule piperine from black pepper (PMID: 27158376; PMC4290101) and studied its effectiveness at inhibiting H. pylori. My study revealed for the first time that piperine acts as an effective H. pylori inhibitor, thereby counteracting processes that lead to gastric cancer from that pathogen. 

3. Antimicrobial compounds that inhibit ESKAPE pathogens. My research always seeks novel therapeutic compounds against ESKAPE pathogens, and we found several molecules that can potentially be repurposed as antimicrobial agents. 

Education & Training

Postdoctoral Associate, Rhode Island Hospital
PhD, Yonsei UniversityWonju
MSc, Bharathidasan University
BSc, Bharathidasan University
Certificate, Healthcare Management, Trinity Mission and Medical Foundation, Madurai, India.

Analysis of genetic diversity and population structure of Magnaporthe grisea, the causal agent of foxtail millet blast using microsatellites
Dhivya, M, Senthilraja, G, Tharmalingam, N, Harish, S, Saravanakumari, K, Anand, T & Thiruvudainambi, S 2023, , PeerJ, vol. 11, e16258, pp. e16258.

Auranofin coated catheters inhibit bacterial and fungal biofilms in a murine subcutaneous model
Felix, LO, Whitely, C, Tharmalingam, N, Mishra, B, Vera-Gonzalez, N, Mylonakis, E, Shukla, A & Fuchs, BB 2023, , Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology, vol. 13, 1135942, pp. 1135942.,

Gold complex compounds that inhibit drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus by targeting thioredoxin reductase
Tharmalingam, N, Xu, S, Felix, LO, Roy, B, Xian, M, Mylonakis, E & Fuchs, BB 2023, , Frontiers in Antibiotics, vol. 2.

Bacterial cancer therapy: A turning point for new paradigms
Mayakrishnan, V, Kannappan, P, Tharmalingam, N, Bose, RJC, Madheswaran, T & Ramasamy, M 2022, , Drug Discovery Today, vol. 27, no. 8, pp. 2043-2050.

Halogen-Based 17ß-HSD1 Inhibitors: Insights from DFT, Docking, and Molecular Dynamics Simulation Studies
Kulandaisamy, A, Panneerselvam, M, Solomon, RV, Jaccob, M, Ramakrishnan, J, Poomani, K, Maruthamuthu, M & Tharmalingam, N 2022, , Molecules, vol. 27, no. 12, 3962.

Biocidal and biocompatible hybrid nanomaterials from biomolecule chitosan, alginate and ZnO
Karthikeyan, C, Tharmalingam, N, Varaprasad, K, Mylonakis, E & Yallapu, MM 2021, , Carbohydrate Polymers, vol. 274, 118646.

Antifungal activity of the phenolic compounds ellagic acid (Ea) and caffeic acid phenethyl ester (cape) against drug-resistant candida auris
Rossatto, FCP, Tharmalingam, N, Escobar, IE, D’azevedo, PA, Zimmer, KR & Mylonakis, E 2021, , Journal of Fungi, vol. 7, no. 9, 763.

Labeling and tracking cells with gold nanoparticles
Chandrasekaran, R, Madheswaran, T, Tharmalingam, N, Bose, RJC, Park, H & Ha, DH 2021, , Drug Discovery Today, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 94-105.

First report of mecC gene in clinical methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA) from tertiary care hospital Islamabad, Pakistan
Khan, AA, Ali, A, Tharmalingam, N, Mylonakis, E & Zahra, R 2020, , Journal of Infection and Public Health, vol. 13, no. 10, pp. 1501-1507.

Characterization of five novel anti-mrsa compounds identified using a whole-animal caenorhabditis elegans/galleria mellonella sequential-screening approach
Khader, R, Tharmalingam, N, Mishra, B, Felix, L, Ausubel, FM, Kelso, MJ & Mylonakis, E 2020, , Antibiotics, vol. 9, no. 8, 449, pp. 1-12.

Reconstructed Apoptotic Bodies as Targeted "nano Decoys" to Treat Intracellular Bacterial Infections within Macrophages and Cancer Cells
Bose, RJC, Tharmalingam, N, Garcia Marques, FJ, Sukumar, UK, Natarajan, A, Zeng, Y, Robinson, E, Bermudez, A, Chang, E, Habte, F, Pitteri, SJ, McCarthy, JR, Gambhir, SS, Massoud, TF, Mylonakis, E & Paulmurugan, R 2020, , ACS Nano, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 5818-5835.

Hand Sanitizers: A Review on Formulation Aspects, Adverse Effects, and Regulations
Jing, JLJ, Yi, TP, Bose, RJC, McCarthy, JR, Tharmalingam, N & Madheswaran, T 2020, , International journal of environmental research and public health, vol. 17, no. 9, 3326.,

Combating intracellular pathogens with nanohybrid-facilitated antibiotic delivery
Bose, RJC, Tharmalingam, N, Choi, Y, Madheswaran, T, Paulmurugan, R, McCarthy, JR, Lee, SH & Park, H 2020, , International Journal of Nanomedicine, vol. 15, pp. 8437-8449.

Metal-Free C-H Thiomethylation of Quinones Using Iodine and DMSO and Study of Antibacterial Activity
Rajasekar, S, Krishna, TPA, Tharmalingam, N, Andivelu, I & Mylonakis, E 2019, , ChemistrySelect, vol. 4, no. 8, pp. 2281-2287.

Auranofin Releasing Antibacterial and Antibiofilm Polyurethane Intravascular Catheter Coatings
Liu, H, Shukla, S, Vera-González, N, Tharmalingam, N, Mylonakis, E, Fuchs, BB & Shukla, A 2019, , Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology, vol. 9, 37.

Auranofin is an effective agent against clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus
Tharmalingam, N, Ribeiro, NQ, Da Silva, DL, Naik, MT, Cruz, LIB, Kim, W, Shen, S, Dos Santos, JD, Ezikovich, K, DAgata, EMC, Mylonakis, E & Fuchs, BB 2019, , Future Medicinal Chemistry, vol. 11, no. 12, pp. 1417-1425.

Antimicrobial effects of black rice extract on Helicobacter pylori infection in Mongolian gerbil
Kim, SH, Woo, HJ, Lee, MH, Park, M, Nagendran, T, Rhee, KJ, Lee, D, Jin, YB, Choi, SW, Seo, WD & Kim, JB 2019, , Journal of Cereal Science, vol. 85, pp. 1-5.

The anti-virulence efficacy of 4-(1,3-Dimethyl-2,3-Dihydro-1H-Benzimidazol-2-yl) phenol against methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus
Tharmalingam, N, Khader, R, Fuchs, BB & Mylonakis, E 2019, , Frontiers in Microbiology, vol. 10, no. JULY, 1557.

Anti-Candida albicans activity of thiazolylhydrazone derivatives in invertebrate and murine models
Cruz, LIB, Lopes, LFF, Ribeiro, FDC, de Sá, NP, Lino, CI, Tharmalingam, N, de Oliveira, RB, Rosa, CA, Mylonakis, E, Fuchs, BB & Johann, S 2018, , Journal of Fungi, vol. 4, no. 4, 134.

Repurposing the anthelmintic drug niclosamide to combat Helicobacter pylori
Tharmalingam, N, Port, J, Castillo, D & Mylonakis, E 2018, , Scientific Reports, vol. 8, no. 1, 3701.