|National Cancer Institute and National Science Foundation
Launch Collaboration; Training Grants Awarded for Nanobiotechnology
The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health,
and the National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced a collaboration that
will establish integrative training environments for U.S. science and engineering
doctoral students to focus on interdisciplinary nanoscience and technology research
with applications to cancer. Through this partnership, $12.8 million in grants
are being awarded to four institutions over the next five years.
Nanotechnology, the development and engineering of devices so small that they
are measured on a molecular scale, has significant potential in the prevention,
diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. The application of nanotechnology to cancer
requires cross-disciplinary training in biological and physical sciences, and
at present there are not enough individuals with such training. The NCI’s Cancer
Nanotechnology Plan, and the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer identified
the need for such a cross-trained scientific workforce as essential to 21st century
research and development.
“In recognition of the potential of nanotechnology to overcome challenges in
cancer research, we have undertaken a major commitment to the field through the
NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer. The NCI-NSF collaboration and other
training and education programs are a vital part of that Alliance, enabling us
to build a cadre of appropriately cross-trained investigators without whom we
cannot envision development of a pipeline of new diagnostics and therapeutics,” said
Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D., director of the National Cancer Institute.
"These awards represent an exciting new model for collaboration between federal
agencies that not only makes wise use of budget resources, but also opens new
channels for bringing promising new technologies to bear on an important health
problem that touches nearly all of us," said NSF Deputy Director Kathie L. Olsen,
Today’s awards are granted through NSF’s Integrative Graduate Education and
Research Traineeship Program (IGERT). The IGERT program is intended to facilitate
greater diversity in student participation and preparation and contribute to
the development of a diverse, globally-engaged science and engineering workforce.
All of the four selected projects, each of which will support approximately
30 students, are linked to regional cancer centers and the biomedical research
- Integrative Nanoscience and Microsystems, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque,
N.M. This program is a collaboration between the University of New Mexico's
Center for High Technology Materials within the School of Engineering, the
College of Arts and Sciences and the Cancer Research and Treatment Center.
The collective goal is to prepare diverse graduates with a comprehensive understanding
of multiple scientific disciplines, who can then utilize nanoscale phenomena
to create macro-scopic functionality in three technical emphasis areas: bio
interfaces, information nanotechnology and complex functional materials. The
principal investigator is Diana Huffaker, Ph.D.
- NanoPharmaceutical Engineering and Science, Rutgers University, New Brunswick,
N.J. This collaboration between Rutgers University, the New Jersey Institute
of Technology and the University of Puerto Rico, will prepare a diverse set
of trainees to develop a wide array of nanoparticle-based biocompatible drug
delivery systems, including DNA-based delivery systems for brain cancer, and
preventive agents. The project will include training in nanoparticle product
and process design. The program, which will coordinate with the Cancer Institute
of New Jersey, will also provide training opportunities with pharmaceutical
and biotechnology companies in New Jersey and Puerto Rico. The principal investigator
is Fernando Muzzio, Ph.D.
- Nanomedical Science and Technology, Northeastern University, Boston, M.A.
This project will establish a new interdisciplinary doctoral education program
in Nanomedical Science and Technology, with a multidisciplinary faculty that
will work together to develop solutions to complex problems at the interface
of nanotechnology, biotechnology and medicine. The program aims to educate
the next generation of scientists and technologists with the requisite skill
sets to address the scientific and engineering challenges of applying nanotechnology
to human health, with the necessary business, ethical and global perspectives.
The project will also involve investigators from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
and the Massachusetts General Hospital. The principal investigator is Srinivas
- Building Leadership for the Nanotechnology Workforce of Tomorrow, University
of Washington, Seattle, W.A. This joint institute for nanotechnology involving
University of Washington, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Fred Hutchinson
Cancer Research Center, will focus on new directions in bionanotechnology.
Such directions include medical applications of nanoscale platforms; use of
nanoscale tools to understand biological mechanisms underlying disease and
to diagnose and treat disease; and combining expertise and techniques across
physical science, biomedicine and engineering. The principal investigator is
Marjorie Olmstead, Ph.D.
“This is an unusual and important opportunity,” noted Larry Sklar, Ph.D., Professor,
Department of Pathology, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, and
one of several NCI-funded investigators on the faculty who will guide the New
Mexico project. “This program formalizes the emerging partnership between engineering
and biomedical research and provides the pathway for building relationships that
will lead to new discoveries. Our project is all about building technology platforms,
and those platforms can now be applied to the complex challenges of cancer biology.”
Along with other NCI training grants being awarded this month, the NCI-NSF awards
address the full spectrum of training and education needs at graduate school,
postdoctoral, and mid-career levels highlighted as priorities in the NCI’s Cancer
Nanotechnology Plan. The award program will be jointly overseen by NSF and by
NCI through the Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer.
The $144.3 million five-year NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer is a
comprehensive, integrated initiative encompassing researchers, clinicians, and
public and private organizations that have joined forces to develop and translate
cancer-related nanotechnology research into clinical practice. The Alliance was
launched in September 2004.
“The IGERT program is a shining example of the integration of education and
research at NSF,” said Deba Dutta, Ph.D., IGERT program director who worked with
NCI to establish this collaboration. “This will provide our science and engineering
doctoral students unique opportunities to participate in nanotechnology innovations
that affect the nation's health. We are excited about this collaboration and
are looking forward to working together with NCI on this important endeavor.”
“We believe that by providing a critical mass of individuals who are prepared
to work in a multi-disciplinary environment, these grants will accelerate the
application of nanotechnology to specific cancer needs, such as the development
of research tools to identify new biological targets, agents to monitor and predict
molecular changes, imaging agents and diagnostics to detect cancer, novel targeting
devices to deliver therapeutic agents, and systems to provide real-time assessments
of therapeutic and surgical efficacy,” noted Leland Hartwell, Ph.D., President
and Director, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
The Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program,
initiated in 1997 and now comprising approximately 150 projects nationwide, has
been developed to meet the challenges of educating U.S. Ph.D. scientists, engineers,
and educators with the interdisciplinary backgrounds, deep knowledge in chosen
disciplines, and technical, professional, and personal skills to become in their
own careers the leaders and creative agents for change. The program is intended
to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education, for students, faculty, and
institutions, by establishing innovative new models for graduate education and
training for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary
boundaries. Projects funded through the IGERT program seek to increase the participation
of underrepresented groups, including women and minorities, in doctorate programs
in the engineering, science and mathematics fields, thereby tapping into a bountiful
resource opportunity to advance cancer research.
For more information on the NCI-NSF partnership, please visit http://nano.cancer.gov.
For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI Web site at http://www.cancer.gov or
call NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4 CANCER (1-800-422-6237)
For more information on the National Science Foundation, please visit http://www.nsf.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research
Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of
the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal
agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical
research, and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common
and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.