• Researcher Profile

    Yolonda L. Colson, MD, PhD

    Yolonda L. Colson, MD, PhD

    Top Doctor

    Director, Women's Lung Cancer Program
    Associate Administrative Chief, Division of Thoracic Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital

    Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School


    Thoracic Oncology

    Office phone: 617-732-6648
    Fax: 617-730-2853
    Email: ycolson@partners.org

    Preferred contact method: office phone

    View Physician Profile


    Women's lung cancer, Thoracic surgical oncology, Minimally invasive surgery, Immunologic diseases of the chest

    Area of Research

    Thoracic Oncology / Polymer Drug Delivery / Lymphatic Mapping

    Brigham and Women's Hospital
    75 Francis Street
    Boston, MA 02215


    Dr. Colson is the Associate Administrative Chief and an attending cardiothoracic surgeon within the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Director of the Women’s Lung Cancer Program, and Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. Her academic training includes a BS in Biomedical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, an MD from Mayo Medical School, and a PhD from University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Colson's surgical residency was at University of Pittsburgh before training in cardiothoracic surgery at Brigham and Womens Hospital.

    Recent Awards

    • Above and Beyond Award, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, US Dept. of Defense, 2009
    • Edward M. Kennedy Award for Healthcare Innovation, Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT), 2008
    • First Michelle Kessler Leadership Award in Womens Health, Brigham and Womens Hospital, 2006
    • Maxwell Resident Career-Research Award, 1998-99
    • Special Fellow, Leukemia Society of America, 1997-2000
    • Research Fellowship, American College of Surgeons, 1994-1996


    Thoracic Oncology / Polymer Drug Delivery / Lymphatic Mapping

    I) Design and validation of drug-eluting polymers for peri-operative locoregional drug delivery:

    Currently the primary focus is the development and testing of novel drug delivery platforms for administering chemotherapeutic agents in a controlled and targeted manner in order to prevent the locoregional recurrence of cancers following surgical resection either at the suture line or within regional lymph nodes. We have generated numerous polymer constructs that effectively encapsulate several chemotherapy drugs (i.e. Paclitaxel, 10-hydroxycamptothecin) with subsequent time- and chemical-mediated release profiles. The two main avenues of research are oriented towards copolymer films capable of long-term drug elution and biocompatibility and polymer nanoparticles with pH-sensitive intracellular drug release mechanisms. Cancer models include standard subcutaneous and intraperitoneal tumor models and a unique model for tumor recurrence in which our copolymer films loaded with paclitaxel have proven effective at preventing growth of recurrent disease following resection of primary tumor nodules. Furthermore, we have recently begun working on large animal (porcine) models to explore real-time imaging of these nanoparticles as they migrate through lymphatic channels to deliver the encapsulated payload within regional lymph nodes.

    II) Characterization of micrometastatic nodal disease in lung cancer through the real-time identification of sentinel lymph nodes in lung cancer patients using near-infrared imaging:

    This NCI-funded Phase I/II clinical trial explores the clinical application of an optical imaging technology that uses safe, invisible near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent light to permit SLN identification via real-time image guidance during surgery. Optimized NIR fluorescent lymphotropic contrast agents have been developed to permit nonradioactive real-time lymphatic mapping and we have enhanced and validated the technology in large animal models. Our hypothesis is that real-time image-guided detection and excision of the tumor-specific SLN using NIR fluorescent technology will provide a safe and clinically applicable means to improve surgical staging with therapeutic benefit to patients with early stage lung cancer.

    Select Publications

    • Zubris KAV, Khullar OV,Griset AP, Gibbs-Strauss S, Frangioni JV, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Ease of Synthesis, Controllable Sizes, and In Vivo Large Animal Lymph Migration of Polymeric Nanoparticle. ChemMedChem cover article. 2010 Sep 3;5(9):1435-8.
    • Wolinsky JB, Liu R, Walpole J, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Prevention of In vivo Lung Tumor Growth by Prolonged Local Delivery of Hydroxycamptothecin Using Poly(ester-carbonate)-collagen Composites. Journal of Controlled Release. 2010 Jun 15; 144(3):280-7.
    • Schulz MD, Khullar O, Frangioni JV, Grinstaff MW, Colson YL. Nanotechnology in Thoracic Surgery. Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 2010 Jun;89(6):S2188-90.
    • Liu R, Wolinsky JB, Walpole J, Southard E, Chirieac LR, Grinstaff MW, Colson YL. Prevention of Local Tumor Recurrence Following Surgery Using Low Dose Chemotherapeutic Polymer Films. Annals of Surgical Oncology. 2010 Apr; 17(4):1203-1213.
    • Donington JS, Colson YL. Sex and gender differences in non-small cell lung cancer. Semin Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2011;23(2):137-45.
    • Schulz MD, Zubris KA, Wade JE, Padera RF, Xu X, Grinstaff MW, Colson YL. Paclitaxel-loaded expansile nanoparticles in a multimodal treatment model of malignant mesothelioma. Ann Thorac Surg. 2011 Dec;92(6):2007-13.
    • Liu R, Khullar OV, Griset AP, Wade JE, Zubris KAV, Grinstaff MW, Colson YL. Local Paclitaxel-loaded Expansile Nanoparticles Delay Recurrence in a Murine Model of NSCLC. Ann Thorac Surg. 2011 Apr;91(4):1077-84.
    • Colson, YL, Liu R, Southard EB, Schultz MD, Wade JE, Griset AP, Zubris KA, Padera RF, Grinstaff MW. The Performance of Expansile Nanoparticles in a Murine Model of Peritoneal Carcinomatosis. Biomaterials. 2011 Jan;32(3):832-40.
    • Gilmore DM, Schulz MD, Liu R, Zubris KA, Padera RF, Catalano P, Grinstaff MW, Colson YL. Cytoreductive Surgery and Intraoperative Administration of Paclitaxel-loaded Expansile Nanoparticles Delay Tumor Recurrence in Ovarian Carcinoma. Ann Surg Onc. 2012 Nov 6. doi:10.1245/s10434-012-2696-5 (Epub ahead of print).
    • Donington JS, Litle VR, Sesti J, Colson YL. The WTS Report on the Current Status of Women in Cardiothoracic Surgery. Ann Thorac Surg. 2012 Aug; 94(2):452-9.
    • Gilmore DM, Khullar OV, Colson YL. Developing Intrathoracic Sentinel Lymph Node Mapping with Near-Infrared Fluorescent Imaging in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2012 Sep;144(3):S80-4. Epub 2012 Jun 20.
    • Yohe ST, Herrera VL, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. 3D Superhydrophobic Electrospun Meshes as Reinforcement Materials for Sustained Local Drug Delivery Against Colorectal Cancer Cells. J Control Release. 2012 Jun 6;162(1):92-101.
    • Colson YL and Grinstaff MW. Biologically Responsive Polymeric Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery. Adv. Mater. 2012 July 24; 24 (28): 3878–3886. doi: 10.1002/adma.201200420.
    • Wolinsky JB, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Local Drug Delivery Strategies for Cancer Treatment: Gels, Nanoparticles, Polymeric Films, Rods, and Wafers. J Control Release. 2012 Apr 10;159(1):14-26.
    • Khullar OV, Griset AP, Gibbs-Straus S, Chirieac LR, Zubris K, Frangioni JV, Grinstaff MW, Colson YL. Nanoparticle Migration and Delivery of Paclitaxel to Regional Lymph Nodes in a Large Animal Model. J Am Coll Surg. 2012 Mar: 214(3):328-37.
    • Yohe ST, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Superhydrophobic Materials for Tunable Drug Release: Using Displacement of Air to Control Delivery Rates. J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Feb 1; 134(4):2016-9.
    • Wolinsky JB, Yohe ST, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Functionalized Hydrophobic Poly(Glycerol-co-ε-Caprolactone) Depots for Controlled Drug Release. Biomacromolecules. 2012 Feb 13;13(2):406-11.
    • Zubris KA, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Hydrogels as Intracellular Depots for Drug Delivery. Mol Pharm. 2012 Jan 1;9(1):196-200.
    • Gilmore DM, Khullar OM, Jaklitsch MT, Chirieac JR, Frangioni JV, Colson YL. Identification of Metastatic Nodal Disease in a Phase-I Dose Escalation Trial of Intraoperative Sentinel Lymph Node Mapping in NSCLC Using Near-Infrared Imaging. Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. 2013 Sep; 146(3):562-70.
    • Zubris K, Liu R, Colby A, Schulz M, Colson Y, and Grinstaff M. In Vitro Activity of Paclitaxel-Loaded Polymeric Expansile Nanoparticles in Breast Cancer Cells. Biomacromolecules. 2013 Jun 10;14(6):2074-82. doi: 10.1021/bm400434h.
    • Colby AH, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Microscopy and Tunable Resistive Pulse Sensing Characterization of the Swelling of pH-Responsive, Polymeric Expansile Nanoparticles. Nanoscale. 2013(5):3496-3504.
    • Yohe ST. Kopechek JA, Porter TM, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Triggered Drug Release from Superhydrophobic Meshes using High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound. Adv Healthc Mater. 2013 Apr 17. doi: 10.1002/adhm.201200381. [Epub ahead of print]
    • Yohe ST, Freedman JD, Falde EJ, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. A Mechanistic Study of Wetting Superhydrophobic Porous 3D Meshes. Advanced Functional Materials. 2013, 23, 3628-3637.
    • Liu, R, Gilmore DM, Zubris KA, Xaioyin X, Catalano P, Padera RF, Grinstaff MW, Colson YL. Prevention of nodal metastases in breast cancer following the lymphatic migration of paclitaxel-loaded expansile nanoparticles. Biomaterials. 2013 Feb. 34(7):1810-1819.
    • Khullar OV, Gilmore DM, Matsui A, Ashitate Y, Colson YL. Preclinical Study of Near-Infrared Guided Sentinel Lymph Node Mapping of the Porcine Lung. Ann Thorac Surg. 2013 Jan;95(1):312-8.
    • Kaplan JA, Lei H, Liu R, Padera R, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Imparting Superhydrophobicity to Biodegradable Poly(lactide-co-gylcolide) Electrospun Meshes. Biomacromolecules. 2014 June. 15(7), 2548–2554.


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