Skip to Content

Home > Biomedical Engineering > Faculty & Staff Directory > Melissa Skala

Melissa Skala

Melissa Skala
Name: Melissa Skala
Phone: 615 322 2602
Fax: 615 343 7919
Office: FEL 307
Mail: VU Station B 351631, Station B
  Nashville, TN 37235-1631 USA
  Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering


Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, Duke University -2007

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

B.S., Physics, Washington State University -2002

Research Interests

Development of optical imaging, optical spectroscopy and nanotechnology for cancer diagnosis and therapy.

Current Projects

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.

Awards and Honors

National Institutes of Health, K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award (2009-2014).

National Institutes of Health, NRSA Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (2007-2009).

Dept. of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (2004-2007).

American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery competitive research grant (2004).

Graduate student and Postdoctoral openings

Projects in the lab include optical design and development, basic cancer research and nanotechnology, and thus candidates with an interest in multi-disciplinary research are encouraged to apply. Graduate student and postdoctoral openings are available, and if interested, please contact Dr. Skala at Please attach a curriculum vita, a brief description of research interests and a list of three references to all inquiries.