Shannon Stott, PhD

The Stott Laboratory

Research topics include: Circulating tumor cells; microfludics and control of the cell microenvironment; imaging.


Shannon Stott, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine

Research Summary

The Stott laboratory is comprised of bioengineers and chemists focused on translating technological advances to relevant applications in clinical medicine.

Specifically, we are interested in using microfluidics, biomaterials and imaging technologies to create tools that increase our understanding of cancer biology and of the metastatic process. The Stott laboratory has co-developed innovative microfluidic devices that can isolate extraordinarily rare circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from the blood of cancer patients. New microfluidic technologies are being developed for the isolation of other blood-based biomarkers such as exosomes and microvesicles as well as DNA. Ultimately, we hope that by working in close partnership with the molecular and cell biologists at the Mass General Cancer Center, we can create new tools that directly impact patient care.

Read the Stott Lab's Annual report in full


Group Members

Shannon Stott, PhD
Principal Investigator

Group Members

  • Berent Aldikacti, MD
  • Uyen Ho
  • Michelle Jewett
  • Felis Koo, MS
  • Carmen Martin Alonso
  • Avanish Mishra, PhD*
  • Jacqueline Ohmura, PhD**
  • João Paulo Oliveira-Costa, PhD
  • Daniel Rabe, PhD
  • Derin Sevenler, PhD*
  • Shannon Stott, PhD
  • Shannon Tessier, PhD***
  • Rohan Thakur
  • Jessica Wallace
  • Mahnaz Zeinali

*co-mentored with Mehmet Toner, PhD
**Co-mentored with Genevieve Boland, MD, PhD
*** Instructor

Research Projects

Rapid technological advances in microfluidics, imaging and digital gene-expression profiling are converging to present new capabilities for blood, tissue and single-cell analysis. Our laboratory is interested in taking these advances and creating new technologies to help build understanding of the metastatic process. Our research focus is on 1) the development and application of microfluidic devices and biomaterials for the isolation and characterization of extracellular vesicles, 2) the enrichment and analysis of CTCs using microfluidics, and 3) novel imaging strategies to characterize cancer cells, CTC clusters and extracellular vesicles.

Extracellular Vesicle Isolation and Characterization

Extracellular vesicles (EVs), such as exosomes, microvesicles, and oncosomes, are small particles that bud off of cancer cells, with some cancer cells releasing up to thousands of EVs per day. Researchers have hypothesized that these EVs shed from tumors transport RNA, DNA and proteins that promote tumor growth, and studies have shown that EVs are present in the blood of most cancer patients. Ongoing work in my lab incorporates microfluidics and novel biomaterials to enrich tumor-specificEVs from the plasma of glioblastoma and pancreatic cancer patients, using as little as 1mL of plasma. Once isolated, we are exploring their protein and nucleic acid content to probe their potential as a less invasive biomarker.

Microfluidics for Circulating Tumor Cell Analysis

One of the proposed mechanisms of cancer metastasis is the dissemination of tumor cells from the primary organ into the blood stream. A cellular link between the primary malignant tumor and the peripheral metastases has been established in the form of CTCs in peripheral blood. While extremely rare, these cells provide a potentially accessible source for early detection, characterization and monitoring of cancers that would otherwise require invasive serial biopsies.  Working in collaboration with Drs. Mehmet Toner, Shyamala Maheswaran and Daniel Haber, we have designed a high throughput microfluidic device, the CTC-Chip, which allows the isolation and characterization of CTCs from the peripheral blood of cancer patients. Using blood from patients with metastatic and localized cancer, we have demonstrated the ability to isolate, enumerate and molecularly characterize putative CTCs with high sensitivity and specificity. Ongoing projects include translating the technology for early cancer detection, exploring the biophysics of the CTC clusters, and the design of biomaterials for the gentle release of the rare cells from the device surface. We are also developing new strategies for the long term preservation of whole blood such that samples can be shipped around the world for CTC analysis.

Multispectral image of a tumor specimen from a head and neck patient. Image courtesy of Joao Oliveira Da Costa, PhD

High-content and high-throughput imaging of cancer cells

Cancer cells can be highly heterogeneous, with rare metastasis precursors capable of giving rise to a metastatic lesion mixed in with other tumor cells undergoing apoptosis. Thus, due to this heterogeneity, quantitative, robust analysis for individual cells may be critical for determining a particular cancer cells’ clinical relevance in different disease contexts. Due to limitations in the number of distinct spectra that can be used in wide-field fluorescence imaging, high throughput characterization of cells and tissue is traditionally done with three to four colors. Our lab is exploring alternative imaging modalities, such as multi-spectral imaging (MSI), to enable quantitative analysis of multiple markers on a single cell. We are interested in using this technology to interrogate signaling activity in cancer cells. These data will be used to gain an increased understanding in the relationship between pharmacologic measurements and clinical outcomes, ultimately leading to the optimization of patient therapy.


View a list of publications by researchers at the Stott Laboratory. 

Selected Publications

Reátegui E*, van der Vos KE*, Lai CP*, Zeinali M, Atai NA, Floyd FP, Khankhel A, Thapar V, Toner M, Hochberg FH, Carter B, Balaj L, Ting DT, Breakefield XO, Stott SL. Engineered Nanointerfaces for Microfluidic Isolation and Molecular Profiling of Tumor-specific Extracellular Vesicles. Nat. Comm. 2018; 9(1).

Wong K.H.K.*, Tessier S.N.*, Miyamoto D., Miller K.L., Bookstaver L.D., Carey T.R., Stannard C., Tai E.C., Vo K.D., Sandlin R.D., Thapar V., Sequist L.V., Ting D.T., Haber D.A., Maheswaran S., Stott S.L. ^, Toner M^. Whole blood stabilization for precision oncology: isolation and molecular characterization of circulating tumor cells. Nat. Comm., 2017 8(1).

Park M.H.*, Reátegui E*, Li W., Jensen A.E., Toner M, Stott S.L.^, Hammond P.T. ^. Enhanced Isolation and Release of Circulating Tumor Cells Using Nanoparticle Binding in a Microfluidic Chip Via Place-Exchangeable Ligands. JACS, 139(7) 2017.

Au SH, Storey BD, Moore JC, Tang Q, Chen Y-L, Sarioglu AF, Javaid S, Langenau DM, Haber DA, Maheswaran S, Stott SL ^, Toner M ^. Clusters of circulating tumor cells traverse capillary-sized vessels. PNAS, 113 (18) 2016.

Reátegui E. Aceto N. Lim EJ, Sullivan JP, Jensen AE, Zeinali M, Martel JM, Aranyosi AJ, Li W, Castleberry S, Bardia A, Sequist L.V, Haber D A, Maheswaran S, Hammond PT, Toner M, Stott SL. Tunable nanostructured coating for immunoaffinity capture and selective release of single viable circulating tumor cells. Advanced Materials 27 (9), 2015.

Stott SL*, Hsu C-H*, Tsukrov DI, Yu M, Miyamoto DT, Waltman BA, Rothenberg SM, Shah AM, Smas ME, Korir GK, Floyd Jr. FP, Gilman A, Lord JB, Winokur D, Springer S, Irimia D, Nagrath SN, Sequist LV, Lee RJ, Isselbacher KJ, Maheswaran S, Haber DA, Toner M. Isolation of circulating tumor cells using a microvortex-generating herringbone-chip. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 107 (43): 18392-19397, 2010.

*co-authors, ^Joint corresponding

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