Nerissa Viola

Nerissa Viola

Associate Professor


Nerissa Viola


4100 John R Street, HW05AO Detroit, MI 48201-2013

Office Address

Karmanos Cancer Institute
4100 John R Street, HW05AO
Detroit, MI 48201-2013 


Jordan White (Graduated 3/9/2021)



Research Interests

  • Theranostic drug development
  • Predictive and quantitative molecular imaging biomarkers to assess tumor response to therapy
  • Image-guided tumor detection including but not limited to breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers 

Research Description

Research in my group focuses on the development of novel, quantitative imaging agents to interrogate tumor biology. These agents will be examined for their potential to monitor and visualize changes in molecular events during tumorigenesis and after treatment. Our long-term objective is to clinically translate these probes to support precision medicine initiatives. Our work has and continues to lead toward the development of PET radiotracers specific for oncogenic biomarkers and immune signatures (i.e. CD3, IFN-g, CD8, EGFR, HER2, HER3, tumor acidosis, PSMA, CA19.9). 

Recent Publications

Recent Publications:
* Denotes CB student or postdoctoral trainee.

*Mcknight, B.N., Viola-Villegas, N.T. Monitoring Src Status after Dasatinib Treatment in HER2+ Breast Cancer with 89Zr-trastuzumab PET imaging. Breast Cancer Research 2018 In press.

Gibson, H.M., *McKnight, B.N., Malysa, A., Dyson, G., Wiesend, W., McCarthy, C.E., Reyes, J., Wei, W.Z., Viola-Villegas, N.T. (2018). Interferon-gamma PET Imaging as a Predictive Tool for Monitoring Response to Tumor Immunotherapy. Cancer Research 2018 Aug 16. pii: canres.0253.2018.

*Mcknight, B.N., *Kuda-Wedagedara, A.N., Sevak, K., Abdel-Atti, D. Wiesend, W., Ku, A., Selvakumar, D., Carlin, S., Lewis, J.S., Viola-Villegas, N. Imaging EGFR and HER3 through 89Zr-labeled MEHD7945A (Duligotuzumab). Scientific Reports  2018;8:9043.

*McKnight, B.N., Viola-Villegas, N.T. 89Zr-ImmunoPET companion diagnostics and their impact in clinical drug development. Journal of Labelled Compounds and Radiopharmaceuticals 2018;61:727-38.

*Kuda-Wedagedara, A.N.W, Workinger, J.L, Nexo, E., Doyle, R.P., Viola-Villegas, N. 89Zr-Cobalamin PET Tracer: Synthesis, Cellular Uptake and Use for Tumor Imaging. ACS Omega 2017;2:6314-20.

For a complete list, please go to:


PhD in Chemistry, 2009, Syracuse University
Postdoctoral Fellow, 2009-2010, University of California – San Diego
Postdoctoral Fellow, 2010-2014, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center 

Courses Taught

CB7210 Fundamentals of Cancer Biology
CB7240 Principles of Cancer Therapy
CB7300 Special Topics Preclinical Imaging Modalities (Course Director)
CB7300 Special Topics Breast Cancer
CB7410 Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy
CB7300 Special Topics Biomarkers in Cancer (Course Director) 

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