Melissa Skala

Investigator, Morgridge Institute; Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering



(608) 316-4108


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Lab website >

My lab uses photonics-based technologies to develop personalized treatment plans for cancer patients (including breast, pancreatic, colorectal, neuroendocrine, oral, and other cancers). We work closely with oncologists to collect fresh patient biopsies that are maintained in 3D culture (tumor organoids), which are used to screen response to multiple treatment options for each patient. Studies across cell and animal systems are focused on tumor immunology and immunotherapy, cell-level metabolic heterogeneity, and cell-cell interactions. Collaborative projects leverage our unique imaging technologies for clinical problems including quality control in T cell and stem-cell therapies, monitoring diseases in the eye, and predicting pre-term birth, among many others. Projects are highly diverse and range from translational research to biologically-driven questions to algorithm / instrumentation development.

Areas of Expertise

  • Optical imaging
  • Tissue engineering
  • Cancer
  • Metabolism
  • Immunology and cancer immunotherapy
  • Machine Learning
  • High-throughput tool development
  • Cell-cell interactions
  • Cellular heterogeneity
  • Translational research


Ph. D. Biomedical Engineering, 2007, Duke University

M.S. Biomedical Engineering, 2004, University of Wisconsin-Madison

B.S. Physics, 2002, Washington State University