Photo of Yolonda L. Colson,  MD, PhD

Yolonda L. Colson, MD, PhD

Massachusetts General Hospital

Massachusetts General Hospital
Phone: (617) 726-2000

Yolonda L. Colson, MD, PhD

Massachusetts General Hospital


  • Hermes C. Grillo Professor of Surgery, Surgery, Harvard Medical School
  • Chief, Thoracic Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital


Research Abstract

Major Research Interests: Transplantation Immunology and Tolerance Induction, Bone Marrow Chimerism, Hematopoietic Stem Cell Biology, Innate and Adaptive Immunity, and Lung Cancer.

Less than half of all lung transplant patients survive more than 5 years as a result of opportunistic infections, chronic rejection, end-organ toxicity or secondary malignancy. Therefore, our major research efforts are focused on approaches to re-educate the recipient immune system for the induction of permanent donor-specific tolerance while maintaining recipient immunocompetence. Engraftment of both donor and recipient hematopoietic stem cells (SC) results in mixed bone marrow (BM) chimerism, induces donor-specific tolerance for allogeneic and xenogeneic solid organ grafts, preserves recipient immunocompetence, and is not associated with chronic rejection. However, the morbidity and mortality associated with graft vs. host disease (GVHD), ablative recipient conditioning, and failure of SC engraftment has prevented the direct clinical application of BM-induced tolerance. We have characterized a rare BM-derived cell population known as the facilitating cell (FC), that is sufficient to permit engraftment of highly purified murine SC in completely MHC-disparate recipients and induce transplantation tolerance without evidence of GVHD. Our laboratory has identified a novel member of the T cell receptor beta (TCRbeta) heterodimer family on the FC, that is responsible for the unique properties of allogeneic SC facilitation and tolerance induction in vivo. Isolation, purification, and characterization of the FCp33/TCRbeta/CD3epsilon receptor and the signaling pathways utilized for tolerance induction form a major research focus of the current NIH funded laboratory.

Other active research interests are involved in the study of the role of innate immunity in chronic rejection of human lung allografts and local therapies for the treatment of lung cancer.


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  • Stoiber P, Ekladious I, Zhao Q, Colson YL, Schaus SE, Hansen U, Grinstaff MW. Expansile Nanoparticles Encapsulate Factor Quinolinone Inhibitor 1 and Accumulate in Murine Liver upon Intravenous Administration. Biomacromolecules 2020. PubMed
  • Chu NQ, Liu R, Colby A, de Forcrand C, Padera RF, Grinstaff MW, Colson YL. Paclitaxel-loaded expansile nanoparticles improve survival following cytoreductive surgery in pleural mesothelioma xenografts. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2020. PubMed
  • Milligan MG, Cronin AM, Colson Y, Kehl K, Yeboa DN, Schrag D, Chen AB. Overuse of Diagnostic Brain Imaging Among Patients With Stage IA Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2020; 18:547-554. PubMed
  • Dupourqué L, Masaki F, Colson YL, Kato T, Hata N. Transbronchial biopsy catheter enhanced by a multisection continuum robot with follow-the-leader motion. 2019. PubMed
  • Ekladious I, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Polymer-drug conjugate therapeutics: advances, insights and prospects. Nat Rev Drug Discov 2018. PubMed
  • Mahvi DA, Liu R, Grinstaff MW, Colson YL, Raut CP. Local Cancer Recurrence: The Realities, Challenges, and Opportunities for New Therapies. CA Cancer J Clin 2018; 68:488-505. PubMed
  • Donington JS, Kim YT, Tong B, Moreira AL, Bessich J, Weiss KD, Colson YL, Wigle D, Osarogiagbon RU, Zweig J, Wakelee H, Blasberg J, Daly M, Backhus L, Van Schil P. Progress in the Management of Early-Stage Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer in 2017. J Thorac Oncol 2018; 13:767-778. PubMed
  • Digesu CS, Weiss KD, Colson YL. Near-Infrared Sentinel Lymph Node Identification in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. JAMA Surg 2018. PubMed
  • Digesu CS, Hachey KJ, Gilmore DM, Khullar OV, Tsukada H, Whang B, Chirieac LR, Padera RF, Jaklitsch MT, Colson YL. Long-term outcomes after near-infrared sentinel lymph node mapping in non-small cell lung cancer. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2018. PubMed
  • Ekladious I, Liu R, Zhang H, Foil DH, Todd DA, Graf TN, Padera RF, Oberlies NH, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Synthesis of poly(1,2-glycerol carbonate)-paclitaxel conjugates and their utility as a single high-dose replacement for multi-dose treatment regimens in peritoneal cancer. Chem Sci 2018; 8:8443-8450. PubMed
  • Tevis KM, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Embedded Spheroids as Models of the Cancer Microenvironment. Adv Biosyst 2018. PubMed
  • Reynolds DS, Tevis KM, Blessing WA, Colson YL, Zaman MH, Grinstaff MW. Breast Cancer Spheroids Reveal a Differential Cancer Stem Cell Response to Chemotherapeutic Treatment. Sci Rep 2017; 7:10382. PubMed
  • Digesu CS, Colson YL. A "green" light for staging in early lung cancer. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2017; 154:1134-1136. PubMed
  • Colson YL. A Glimpse of the Future With Intraoperative Molecular Imaging. Ann Surg 2017. PubMed
  • Blok AC, Blonquist TM, Nayak MM, Somayaji D, Crouter SE, Hayman LL, Colson YL, Bueno R, Emmons KM, Cooley ME. Feasibility and acceptability of "healthy directions" a lifestyle intervention for adults with lung cancer. 2017. PubMed
  • Hachey KJ, Digesu CS, Armstrong KW, Gilmore DM, Khullar OV, Whang B, Tsukada H, Colson YL. A novel technique for tumor localization and targeted lymphatic mapping in early-stage lung cancer. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2017. PubMed
  • Colby AH, Oberlies NH, Pearce CJ, Herrera VL, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Nanoparticle drug-delivery systems for peritoneal cancers: a case study of the design, characterization and development of the expansile nanoparticle. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Nanomed Nanobiotechnol 2017. PubMed
  • Colby AH, Berry SM, Moran AM, Pasion KA, Liu R, Colson YL, Ruiz-Opazo N, Grinstaff MW, Herrera VL. Highly Specific and Sensitive Fluorescent Nanoprobes for Image-Guided Resection of Sub-Millimeter Peritoneal Tumors. ACS Nano 2017. PubMed
  • Tevis KM, Cecchi RJ, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Mimicking the tumor microenvironment to regulate macrophage phenotype and assessing chemotherapeutic efficacy in embedded cancer cell/macrophage spheroid models. Acta Biomater 2016. PubMed
  • Hou Y, Hermann G, Lewis JH, Aerts HJ, Baldini EH, Chen AB, Colson YL, Hacker FL, Killoran JH, Kozono DE, Wagar M, Wee JO, Mak RH. Clinical Outcomes After Lung Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy in Patients With or Without a Prior Lung Resection. Am J Clin Oncol 2016. PubMed
  • Liu R, Colby AH, Gilmore D, Schulz M, Zeng J, Padera RF, Shirihai O, Grinstaff MW, Colson YL. Nanoparticle tumor localization, disruption of autophagosomal trafficking, and prolonged drug delivery improve survival in peritoneal mesothelioma. Biomaterials 2016; 102:175-86. PubMed
  • Herrera VL, Colby AH, Tan GA, Moran AM, O'Brien MJ, Colson YL, Ruiz-Opazo N, Grinstaff MW. Evaluation of expansile nanoparticle tumor localization and efficacy in a cancer stem cell-derived model of pancreatic peritoneal carcinomatosis. Nanomed 2016; 11:1001-15. PubMed
  • Hachey KJ, Gilmore DM, Armstrong KW, Harris SE, Hornick JL, Colson YL, Wee JO. Safety and feasibility of near-infrared image-guided lymphatic mapping of regional lymph nodes in esophageal cancer. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2016. PubMed
  • Hofferberth SC, Grinstaff MW, Colson YL. Nanotechnology applications in thoracic surgery. 2016. PubMed
  • Kaplan JA, Liu R, Freedman JD, Padera R, Schwartz J, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Prevention of lung cancer recurrence using cisplatin-loaded superhydrophobic nanofiber meshes. Biomaterials 2015; 76:273-81. PubMed
  • Colby AH, Liu R, Schulz MD, Padera RF, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Two-Step Delivery: Exploiting the Partition Coefficient Concept to Increase Intratumoral Paclitaxel Concentrations In vivo Using Responsive Nanoparticles. Sci Rep 2016; 6:18720. PubMed
  • Rosenthal EL, Warram JM, de Boer E, Basilion JP, Biel MA, Bogyo M, Bouvet M, Brigman BE, Colson YL, DeMeester SR, Gurtner GC, Ishizawa T, Jacobs PM, Keereweer S, Liao JC, Nguyen QT, Olson JM, Paulsen KD, Rieves D, Sumer BD, Tweedle MF, Vahrmeijer AL, Weichert JP, Wilson BC, Zenn MR, Zinn KR, van Dam GM. Successful Translation of Fluorescence Navigation During Oncologic Surgery: A Consensus Report. J Nucl Med 2015. PubMed
  • Mody GN, Bravo Iñiguez C, Armstrong K, Perez Martinez M, Ferrone M, Bono C, Chi JH, Wee JO, Lebenthal A, Swanson SJ, Colson YL, Bueno R, Jaklitsch MT. Early Surgical Outcomes of En Bloc Resection Requiring Vertebrectomy for Malignancy Invading the Thoracic Spine. Ann Thorac Surg 2015. PubMed
  • Stolzoff M, Ekladious I, Colby AH, Colson YL, Porter TM, Grinstaff MW. Synthesis and Characterization of Hybrid Polymer/Lipid Expansile Nanoparticles: Imparting Surface Functionality for Targeting and Stability. Biomacromolecules 2015; 16:1958-66. PubMed
  • Gill RR, Zheng Y, Barlow JS, Jayender J, Girard EE, Hartigan PM, Chirieac LR, Belle-King CJ, Murray K, Sears C, Wee JO, Jaklitsch MT, Colson YL, Bueno R. Image-guided video assisted thoracoscopic surgery (iVATS) - phase I-II clinical trial. J Surg Oncol 2015; 112:18-25. PubMed
  • Lei H, Hofferberth SC, Liu R, Colby A, Tevis KM, Catalano P, Grinstaff MW, Colson YL. Paclitaxel-loaded expansile nanoparticles enhance chemotherapeutic drug delivery in mesothelioma 3-dimensional multicellular spheroids. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2015. PubMed
  • Mak RH, Hermann G, Lewis JH, Aerts HJ, Baldini EH, Chen AB, Colson YL, Hacker FH, Kozono D, Wee JO, Chen YH, Catalano PJ, Wong KK, Sher DJ. Outcomes by tumor histology and KRAS mutation status after lung stereotactic body radiation therapy for early-stage non-small-cell lung cancer. Clin Lung Cancer 2014; 16:24-32. PubMed
  • Pham DT, Stephens EH, Antonoff MB, Colson YL, Dildy GA, Gaur P, Correa AM, Litle VR, Blackmon SH. Birth trends and factors affecting childbearing among thoracic surgeons. Ann Thorac Surg 2014; 98:890-5. PubMed
  • Gaur P, Dunne R, Colson YL, Gill RR. Bronchopleural fistula and the role of contemporary imaging. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2014. PubMed
  • Mohiuddin K, Haneuse S, Sofer T, Gill R, Jaklitsch MT, Colson YL, Wee J, Bueno R, Mentzer SJ, Sugarbaker DJ, Swanson SJ. Relationship between margin distance and local recurrence among patients undergoing wedge resection for small (≤2 cm) non-small cell lung cancer. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2014; 147:1169-75; discussion 1175-7. PubMed
  • Charoen KM, Fallica B, Colson YL, Zaman MH, Grinstaff MW. Embedded multicellular spheroids as a biomimetic 3D cancer model for evaluating drug and drug-device combinations. Biomaterials 2014; 35:2264-71. PubMed
  • Hachey KJ, Colson YL. Current innovations in sentinel lymph node mapping for the staging and treatment of resectable lung cancer. Semin Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2014; 26:201-9. PubMed
  • Coroller TP, Mak RH, Lewis JH, Baldini EH, Chen AB, Colson YL, Hacker FL, Hermann G, Kozono D, Mannarino E, Molodowitch C, Wee JO, Sher DJ, Killoran JH. Low incidence of chest wall pain with a risk-adapted lung stereotactic body radiation therapy approach using three or five fractions based on chest wall dosimetry. PLoS ONE 2014; 9:e94859. PubMed
  • Gilmore DM, Khullar OV, Jaklitsch MT, Chirieac LR, Frangioni JV, Colson YL. Identification of metastatic nodal disease in a phase 1 dose-escalation trial of intraoperative sentinel lymph node mapping in non-small cell lung cancer using near-infrared imaging. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2013; 146:562-70; discussion 569-70. PubMed
  • Gilmore DM, Khullar OV, Gioux S, Stockdale A, Frangioni JV, Colson YL, Russell SE. Effective low-dose escalation of indocyanine green for near-infrared fluorescent sentinel lymph node mapping in melanoma. Ann Surg Oncol 2013. PubMed
  • Zubris KA, Liu R, Colby A, Schulz MD, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. In vitro activity of Paclitaxel-loaded polymeric expansile nanoparticles in breast cancer cells. Biomacromolecules 2013. PubMed
  • Gilmore D, Schulz M, Liu R, Zubris KA, Padera RF, Catalano PJ, Grinstaff MW, Colson YL. Cytoreductive surgery and intraoperative administration of paclitaxel-loaded expansile nanoparticles delay tumor recurrence in ovarian carcinoma. Ann Surg Oncol 2013. PubMed
  • Colby AH, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Microscopy and tunable resistive pulse sensing characterization of the swelling of pH-responsive, polymeric expansile nanoparticles. Nanoscale 2013; 5:3496-504. PubMed
  • Liu R, Gilmore DM, Zubris KA, Xu X, Catalano PJ, Padera RF, Grinstaff MW, Colson YL. Prevention of nodal metastases in breast cancer following the lymphatic migration of paclitaxel-loaded expansile nanoparticles. Biomaterials 2012; 34:1810-9. PubMed
  • 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 2012; 95:312-8. PubMed
  • Gilmore D, Colson YL. Recurrent chylous pericardial effusion and left neck mass. Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2013. PubMed
  • 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; 144:S80-4. PubMed
  • Liu R, Khullar OV, Griset AP, Wade JE, Zubris KA, Grinstaff MW, Colson YL. Paclitaxel-loaded expansile nanoparticles delay local recurrence in a heterotopic murine non-small cell lung cancer model. Ann Thorac Surg 2011; 91:1077-83; discussion 1083-4. PubMed
  • Colson YL, Liu R, Southard EB, Schulz MD, Wade JE, Griset AP, Zubris KA, Padera RF, Grinstaff MW. The performance of expansile nanoparticles in a murine model of peritoneal carcinomatosis. Biomaterials 2010; 32:832-40. PubMed
  • Zubris KA, 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 nanoparticles. ChemMedChem 2010; 5:1435-8. PubMed
  • Wolinsky JB, Liu R, Walpole J, Chirieac LR, Colson YL, Grinstaff MW. Prevention of in vivo lung tumor growth by prolonged local delivery of hydroxycamptothecin using poly(ester-carbonate)-collagen composites. J Control Release 2010; 144:280-7. PubMed
  • Schulz MD, Gill RR, Colson YL. Ipsilateral intralobar and subphrenic pulmonary sequestration. Ann Thorac Surg 2010; 89:2017-9. PubMed
  • Schulz MD, Khullar O, Frangioni JV, Grinstaff MW, Colson YL. Nanotechnology in thoracic surgery. Ann Thorac Surg 2010; 89:S2188-90. PubMed
  • Winer JH, Choi HS, Gibbs-Strauss SL, Ashitate Y, Colson YL, Frangioni JV. Intraoperative localization of insulinoma and normal pancreas using invisible near-infrared fluorescent light. Ann Surg Oncol 2010; 17:1094-100. PubMed
  • 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. Ann Surg Oncol 2010; 17:1203-13. PubMed
  • Wolf AS, Jacobson FL, Tilleman TR, Colson Y, Richards WG, Sugarbaker DJ. Managing the pneumonectomy space after extrapleural pneumonectomy: postoperative intrathoracic pressure monitoring. 2010; 37:770-5. PubMed
  • Khullar O, Colson YL. The underfunding of lung cancer research. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2009; 138:275. PubMed
  • Griset AP,Walpole J,Liu R,Gaffey A,Colson YL,Grinstaff MW. Expansile nanoparticles: synthesis, characterization, and in vivo efficacy of an acid-responsive polymeric drug delivery system. J Am Chem Soc 2009; 131:2469-71. PubMed
  • Stewart AJ,Mutyala S,Holloway CL,Colson YL,Devlin PM. Intraoperative seed placement for thoracic malignancy-A review of technique, indications, and published literature. Brachytherapy 2008; 8:63-9. PubMed
  • Gill RR,Poh AC,Camp PC,Allen JM,Delano MT,Jacobson FL,Hunsaker A,Colson YL. MDCT evaluation of central airway and vascular complications of lung transplantation. AJR Am J Roentgenol 2008; 191:1046-56. PubMed
  • Camp PL,Colson YL. Invited commentary. Ann Thorac Surg 2008; 85:1900. PubMed
  • Azouz SM, Walpole J, Amirifeli S, Taylor KN, Grinstaff MW, Colson YL. Prevention of local tumor growth with paclitaxel-loaded microspheres. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2008; 135:1014-21. PubMed
  • Sanders JL, Colson YL. Leveraging Primary Care in the Fight Against Lung Cancer. J Gen Intern Med 2008; 23:344-7. PubMed
  • Linden PA, Wee JO, Jaklitsch MT, Colson YL. Extending indications for radiofrequency ablation of lung tumors through an intraoperative approach. Ann Thorac Surg 2008; 85:420-3. PubMed
  • Taylor KN,Laszkowska M,Cohick E,Colson YL. Induction of FoxP3+CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells by a bone marrow population distinct from plasmacytoid-DC. Cell Immunol 2008; 251:43-9. PubMed
  • Tolaney SM, Colson YL, Gill RR, Schulte S, Duggan MM, Shulman LN, Winer EP. Sarcoidosis mimicking metastatic breast cancer. Clin Breast Cancer 2007; 7:804-10. PubMed
  • Chang MY, Mentzer SJ, Colson YL, Linden PA, Jaklitsch MT, Lipsitz SR, Sugarbaker DJ. Factors predicting poor survival after resection of stage IA non-small cell lung cancer. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2007; 134:850-6. PubMed
  • Linden PA, Bueno R, Mentzer SJ, Zellos L, Lebenthal A, Colson YL, Sugarbaker DJ, Jaklitsch MT. Modified T-tube repair of delayed esophageal perforation results in a low mortality rate similar to that seen with acute perforations. Ann Thorac Surg 2007; 83:1129-33. PubMed
  • Parungo CP, Soybel DI, Colson YL, Kim SW, Ohnishi S, DeGrand AM, Laurence RG, Soltesz EG, Chen FY, Cohn LH, Bawendi MG, Frangioni JV. Lymphatic drainage of the peritoneal space: a pattern dependent on bowel lymphatics. Ann Surg Oncol 2006; 14:286-98. PubMed
  • Ozols RF, Herbst RS, Colson YL, Gralow J, Bonner J, Curran WJ, Eisenberg BL, Ganz PA, Kramer BS, Kris MG, Markman M, Mayer RJ, Raghavan D, Reaman GH, Sawaya R, Schilsky RL, Schuchter LM, Sweetenham JW, Vahdat LT, Winn RJ,. Clinical cancer advances 2006: major research advances in cancer treatment, prevention, and screening--a report from the American Society of Clinical Oncology. J Clin Oncol 2006; 25:146-62. PubMed
  • Taylor KN, Shinde Patil VR, Colson YL. Reconstitution of allogeneic hemopoietic stem cells: the essential role of FcR gamma and the TCR beta-chain-FCp33 complex. J Immunol 2006; 177:1444-50. PubMed
  • Paul S, Marty FM, Colson YL. Treatment of cavitary pulmonary zygomycosis with surgical resection and posaconazole. Ann Thorac Surg 2006; 82:338-40. PubMed