Shana Kelley, Ph.D.


Tracking Rare Cells and Cancer Biomarkers using Nanostructured Materials


Nanostructured materials possess a variety of properties that can enhance the speed and sensitivity of biomolecular and cellular detection.  The length scale of many nanomaterials enhances their ability to contact individual molecules, and their surface-to-volume ratios can produce enhanced levels of signal.  The magnetic, electrochemical and optical properties of nanomaterials are also highly sensitive to small changes in local environment, which also enhances the performance of nanostructured detectors.  We have developed a variety of new solutions for biomolecular and cellular analysis powered by inorganic nanomaterials.  Three-dimensional, nanostructured sensors for electrochemical analysis of biomolecular targets have been engineered using electrodeposited metals and shown to exhibit clinically-relevant levels of sensitivity and specificity. As well, a nanoparticle-mediated approach to the analysis and phenotypic profiling of circulating tumor cells allows these rare cells to be analyzed in patient samples for cancer monitoring. These new tools enhance the level of information that can be collected from clinical specimens, and provide new possibilities for molecular analysis in medicine.



Dr. Shana Kelley is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto.  Dr. Kelley received her Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology and was a NIH postdoctoral fellow at the Scripps Research Institute.

The Kelley research group works in a variety of areas spanning chemical biology and nanotechnology.   Her work focuses on the development of devices and molecular probes that allow biology to be investigated in new ways.  The group has advanced new solutions for ultrasensitive biomolecular detection, rare cell analysis, and intracellular molecular targeting.

Dr. Kelley’s work has been recognized with a variety of distinctions, including being named one of “Canada’s Top 40 under 40”, a NSERC E.W.R. Steacie Fellow, the 2011 Steacie Prize, and the 2016 NSERC Brockhouse Prize. She has also been recognized with the Pittsburgh Conference Achievement Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award, a NSF CAREER Award, a Dreyfus New Faculty Award, and was also named a “Top 100 Innovator” by MIT’s Technology Review.  She is a founder of two molecular diagnostics companies, GeneOhm Sciences (acquired by Becton Dickinson in 2005) and Xagenic Inc. and an inventor on > 50 patents.

Kelley Lab