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Sarah Shelton, PhD, is a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member and biomedical engineer who specializes in building microphysiological models to reveal how cells respond to and shape the tumor microenvironment.

Assistant Professor, Joint Biomedical Engineering Department
UNC-Chapel Hill and NCSU

Area of Interest

My lab designs microfluidic, organ-on-chip models of disease to uncover how the tissue microenvironment and cellular interactions shape pathology and treatment response. We use biological, engineering and imaging tools to study the transport and function of cells within 3D, engineered in vitro systems that mimic specific tissues. One area of interest is determining how different components of the immune microenvironment in cancer interact in ways that may drive disease progression or response to therapy. This work includes generating vascularized micro-tissues using cells and tissues from patients for personalized medicine and to design novel in vitro assays for assessing immunotherapy efficacy. Building microfluidic models of vascular beds also allows us to observe interactions between circulating cells and the surrounding tissue, including the process of metastasis, and we are exploring how components of the coagulation cascade may influence metastatic outcomes. As part of the “Translational Predictive Biology” cluster, we enjoy collaborating with scientists and engineers across the spectrums of health and disease research, length and time scales and bench-to-bedside translation.

Find publications on PubMed

Awards and Honors

  • Rising Stars in Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2021
  • NCI Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award, National Cancer Institute, 2016 – 2023
  • Integrative Vascular Biology Training Program Fellowship Trainee, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2013 – 2016
  • Dean’s Doctoral Fellowship, NCSU College of Engineering, 2012 – 2013
  • Graduate Merit Award, NCSU College of Engineering, 2012
  • Cancer Nanotechnology Summer Institute Fellowship, National Science Foundation, 2011
Headshot of Sarah Shelton.
  • Address

    Biomedical Partnership Center, 20051

    1001 William Moore Drive

    Raleigh, NC 27695