Scott Manalis
Tumor biology, Tumor microenvironment


BS, physics, University of California, Santa Barbara

PhD, applied physics, Stanford University

I am the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Biological Engineering at MIT, where I have been on the faculty since 1999. I am also a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and of the Center for Precision Cancer Medicine at MIT, and a founder of Travera and Affinity Biosensors. My laboratory develops microfluidic technologies to measure biophysical properties of single cells (e.g. mass, growth, deformability) and we apply these technologies to problems in cancer, immunology and microbial research. Our research projects generally fall within the following areas:

Functional assays for precision medicine in cancer: Better information about which treatment to offer an individual patient could improve efficacy while sparing patients the toxicity of therapies that offer no benefit. To address this need, we are developing new technology platforms for predicting therapeutic response in which biophysical properties of individual tumor cells are measured in response to ex vivo treatment with combination therapies. We are utilizing these platforms within clinical studies in a broad range of tumor types, including leukemias, glioblastoma, colon and pancreatic cancers.

Linking biophysical to genomic properties in single cells: We are pursuing several directions where high precision measurement of single cell biophysical properties reveals interesting subpopulations. Examples include activated immune cells with divergent growth kinetics, bacterial responses to antibiotics or antimicrobial peptides and tumor cell response to targeted therapies. In collaboration with other researchers, we are linking biophysical properties to gene expression (sc-RNA-Seq) at the single-cell level and at scale in order to understand the mechanisms that govern growth heterogeneity in these examples.

Real-time monitoring of circulating tumor cells in genetically engineered mouse models: Despite the central importance of circulating tumor cells (CTCs), our understanding of their role in metastasis has been limited by the extreme difficulty of characterizing CTC populations over time and linking them to metastases that occur during natural tumor progression. Genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMs) have emerged as an attractive model for recapitulating the natural multistage evolution of cancers. Working with the Jacks lab, we are using GEMMs together with microfluidic technology to understand how progression to metastasis correlates with and could be explained by the circulatory dynamics and physical properties of CTCs.

I was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in 2013 and received the Baker Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2009. I received a B.S. in physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a PhD in applied physics from Stanford University.


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