Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

Meet the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s
Melissa Skala
Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Medical Physics
Carol Skornicka Chair of Biomedical Imaging
Morgridge Institute for Research & College of Engineering


Research area Developing biomedical optical imaging technologies for cancer research, cell therapy and immunology. Current projects focus on tumor immunology and immunotherapy, cell-level metabolic heterogeneity and cell-cell interactions.

What excites you about your work? 

“I get excited the first time I see an image of cells doing something no one has seen before, or a piece of data no one has seen before. I get this endorphin rush. It’s exhilarating.”

What do you hope to achieve? 

“My goal is to unravel the complexities of how the body works, and it’s a difficult problem because there are tons of tiny little pieces orchestrating this response. For example, in the immune system, we don’t understand how even one of those cells function, let alone a foreign pathogen. The imaging tools I’m developing are addressing the question of how this complex system works and how individual parts communicate. As an imaging person, I’m focused on unraveling those complexities in the most intact representative systems possible. Cells are amazing little machines, and it’s exciting to see what they do.

Melissa’s work will support and foster additional scientific research as well as have an impact on the discovery and manufacturing of life saving cell therapies. Melissa is focused on developing the commercial potential for her research and technologies and we are excited to be her partner.

– Jeanine Burmania, WARF, Senior Director, IP and Licensing

Want to learn more?

Jeanine Burmania, [email protected], 608.960.9846