Melissa C. Skala, Ph.D.

Adjoint Assistant Professor

Visit Lab Site

Faculty Appointments
Adjoint Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham, North CarolinaM.S., Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WisconsinB.S., Physics, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington
Office Address
Station B, Box 351631
Nashville 37235
Research Description
Optical technologies are attractive for diagnosing cancer and for monitoring cancer therapy because these techniques are low cost, portable, fast and provide a wealth of information on tissue structure and function. Dr. Skala's research focuses on the development of optical imaging tools that monitor biological markers such as cellular metabolic rate, molecular expression, blood oxygenation and blood flow in vivo. These tools are applied to pre-clinical models for the design and development of effective therapeutic strategies, and in clinical studies to provide early detection and individualized treatment to cancer patients. Specific technologies under development include optical coherence tomography to monitor blood flow and microvessel morphology, multiphoton and fluorescence lifetime microscopy to image cellular metabolism, photothermal microscopy with nanoparticle contrast agents for molecular imaging, and optical spectroscopy to quantify tissue blood content and oxygenation.
Research Keywords
Development of optical imaging, optical spectroscopy and nanotechnology for cancer diagnosis and therapy.
Venkateswaran A, Friedman DB, Walsh AJ, Skala MC, Sasi S, Rachakonda G, Crooks PA, Freeman ML, Sekhar KR. The novel antiangiogenic VJ115 inhibits the NADH oxidase ENOX1 and cytoskeleton-remodeling proteins. Invest New Drugs [print-electronic]. 2013 Jun; 31(3): 535-44. PMID: 23054211, PMCID: PMC3553230, DOI: 10.1007/s10637-012-9884-9, ISSN: 1573-0646.

Trantum JR, Eagleton ZE, Patil CA, Tucker-Schwartz JM, Baglia ML, Skala MC, Haselton FR. Cross-sectional tracking of particle motion in evaporating drops: flow fields and interfacial accumulation. Langmuir [print-electronic]. 2013 May 5/28/2013; 29(21): 6221-31. PMID: 23611508, DOI: 10.1021/la400542x, ISSN: 1520-5827.

Joshi RV, Nelson CE, Poole KM, Skala MC, Duvall CL. Dual pH- and temperature-responsive microparticles for protein delivery to ischemic tissues. Acta Biomater [print-electronic]. 2013 May; 9(5): 6526-34. PMID: 23402764, PMCID: PMC3702271, PII: S1742-7061(13)00059-7, DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2013.01.041, ISSN: 1878-7568.

Tucker-Schwartz JM, Meyer TA, Patil CA, Duvall CL, Skala MC. In vivo photothermal optical coherence tomography of gold nanorod contrast agents. Biomed Opt Express [print-electronic]. 2012 Nov 11/1/2012; 3(11): 2881-95. PMID: 23162726, PMCID: PMC3493242, PII: 175725, DOI: 10.1364/BOE.3.002881, ISSN: 2156-7085.

Walsh AJ, Poole KM, Duvall CL, Skala MC. Ex vivo optical metabolic measurements from cultured tissue reflect in vivo tissue status. J Biomed Opt. 2012 Nov; 17(11): 116015. PMID: 23117810, PMCID: PMC3484268, PII: 1388600, DOI: 10.1117/1.JBO.17.11.116015, ISSN: 1560-2281.

Tucker-Schwartz JM, Hong T, Colvin DC, Xu Y, Skala MC. Dual-modality photothermal optical coherence tomography and magnetic-resonance imaging of carbon nanotubes. Opt Lett. 2012 Mar 3/1/2012; 37(5): 872-4. PMID: 22378422, PMCID: PMC3390748, PII: 227936, ISSN: 1539-4794.

Walsh A, Cook RS, Rexer B, Arteaga CL, Skala MC. Optical imaging of metabolism in HER2 overexpressing breast cancer cells. Biomed Opt Express [print-electronic]. 2012 Jan 1/1/2012; 3(1): 75-85. PMID: 22254170, PMCID: PMC3255344, PII: 156540, DOI: 10.1364/BOE.3.000075, ISSN: 2156-7085.

Skala MC, Fontanella A, Lan L, Izatt JA, Dewhirst MW. Longitudinal optical imaging of tumor metabolism and hemodynamics. J Biomed Opt. 2010 Jan; 15(1): 11112. PMID: 20210438, PMCID: PMC2816992, DOI: 10.1117/1.3285584, ISSN: 1560-2281.

Skala MC, Fontanella A, Hendargo H, Dewhirst MW, Izatt JA. Combined hyperspectral and spectral domain optical coherence tomography microscope for noninvasive hemodynamic imaging. Opt Lett. 2009 Feb 2/1/2009; 34(3): 289-91. PMID: 19183634, PMCID: PMC2715151, PII: 176087, ISSN: 0146-9592.

Skala MC, Crow MJ, Wax A, Izatt JA. Photothermal optical coherence tomography of epidermal growth factor receptor in live cells using immunotargeted gold nanospheres. Nano Lett [print-electronic]. 2008 Oct; 8(10): 3461-7. PMID: 18767886, PMCID: PMC2574829, DOI: 10.1021/nl802351p, ISSN: 1530-6984.

Skala MC, Riching KM, Gendron-Fitzpatrick A, Eickhoff J, Eliceiri KW, White JG, Ramanujam N. In vivo multiphoton microscopy of NADH and FAD redox states, fluorescence lifetimes, and cellular morphology in precancerous epithelia. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A [print-electronic]. 2007 Dec 12/4/2007; 104(49): 19494-9. PMID: 18042710, PMCID: PMC2148317, PII: 0708425104, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0708425104, ISSN: 1091-6490.

Skala MC, Palmer GM, Vrotsos KM, Gendron-Fitzpatrick A, Ramanujam N. Comparison of a physical model and principal component analysis for the diagnosis of epithelial neoplasias in vivo using diffuse reflectance spectroscopy. Opt Express. 2007 Jun 6/11/2007; 15(12): 7863-75. PMID: 17912337, PMCID: PMC1999391, DOI: 10.1364/OE.15.007863, ISSN: 1094-4087.

Skala MC, Riching KM, Bird DK, Gendron-Fitzpatrick A, Eickhoff J, Eliceiri KW, Keely PJ, Ramanujam N. In vivo multiphoton fluorescence lifetime imaging of protein-bound and free nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide in normal and precancerous epithelia. J Biomed Opt. 2007 Mar; 12(2): 24014. PMID: 17477729, PMCID: PMC2743958, DOI: 10.1117/1.2717503, ISSN: 1083-3668.

Skala MC, Squirrell JM, Vrotsos KM, Eickhoff JC, Gendron-Fitzpatrick A, Eliceiri KW, Ramanujam N. Multiphoton microscopy of endogenous fluorescence differentiates normal, precancerous, and cancerous squamous epithelial tissues. Cancer Res. 2005 Feb 2/15/2005; 65(4): 1180-6. PMID: 15735001, PMCID: PMC4189807, PII: 65/4/1180, DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-04-3031, ISSN: 0008-5472.

Skala MC, Palmer GM, Zhu C, Liu Q, Vrotsos KM, Marshek-Stone CL, Gendron-Fitzpatrick A, Ramanujam N. Investigation of fiber-optic probe designs for optical spectroscopic diagnosis of epithelial pre-cancers. Lasers Surg Med. 2004; 34(1): 25-38. PMID: 14755422, PMCID: PMC2768119, DOI: 10.1002/lsm.10239, ISSN: 0196-8092.

Available Postdoctoral Position Details
Posted: 4/25/2013
Postdoctoral positions in optical imaging, cancer research, and cardiovascular research are available.