VICC Young Ambassadors

Melissa Skala, Ph.D.

Melissa Skala, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Vanderbilt University 

Since August 2010, Melissa Skala has been an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University. She received training in Physics from Washington State University (B.S., 2002) and Biomedical Engineering from University of Wisconsin, Madison (M.S., 2004) and Duke University (Ph.D., 2007; postdoctoral 2007-2010). Her research interests are on the interface of engineering and cancer research, with a focus on optical sensing of therapeutic response in tumors. Specifically, optical imaging technologies have been developed to sense the metabolic state of tumor cells, which provides a sensitive indicator of early drug response. This technology has the potential to define optimal treatment strategies before treatment is actually given to a patient, and to greatly accelerate the availability of new cancer drugs to patients.

Other research interests include the development of new imaging technologies that combine optical imaging and nanotechnology, and the development of imaging methods to study tumor blood supply. Her ultimate goal is to apply all of these technologies to improve the care and treatment of cancer patients. Her work has been solicited for numerous invited presentations in the US and abroad, and has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and the American Heart Association. She enjoys spending time with her family, including her husband and two sons.