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The Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL) performs and standardizes the pre-clinical characterization of nanomaterials intended for cancer therapeutics and diagnostics developed by researchers from academia, government, and industry. The NCL serves as a national resource and knowledge base for cancer researchers, and facilitates the development and translation of nanoscale particles and devices for clinical applications.


The NCI believes that the NCL's activities will markedly speed the development of nanotechnology-based products for cancer patients, reduce the risk of doing so, and encourage private-sector investment in this promising area of technology development. By achieving its goals the NCL will provide a comprehensive set of baseline characterization parameters that will enable cancer biologists, drug and diagnostic developers, and clinical oncologists to apply their tools to solving problems that most affect cancer patients. This work will also lay a scientific foundation that will enable the FDA to make sound decisions concerning the testing and approval of nanoscale cancer diagnostics, imaging agents, and therapeutics.

To achieve its Mission, the NCL has established the following six objectives:

  1. Establish and Standardize an Analytical Cascade for Nanomaterial Characterization

  2. Facilitate the Clinical Development and Regulatory Review of Nanomaterials for Cancer Clinical Trials

  3. Identify and Characterize Critical Parameters Related to Nanomaterials' Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, Excretion, and Toxicity Profiles of Nanomaterials Using Animal Models

  4. Examine the Biological and Functional Characteristics of Multicomponent/Combinatorial Aspects of Nanoscaled Therapeutic, Molecular and Clinical Diagnostics, and Detection Platforms

  5. Engage and Facilitate Academic and Industrial-Based Knowledge Sharing of Nanomaterial Performance Data and Behavior Resulting from Pre-Clinical Testing (i.e. Physical Characterization, In Vitro Testing, and In Vivo Pharmaco- and Toxicokinetics)

  6. Interface with Other Nanotechnology Efforts

Education & Training

The cross-disciplinary nature of NCL provides a unique opportunity to educate and train scientists in the field of nano-biotechnology. It is anticipated that graduate students, postdocs, and scientists from the disciplines of material science, engineering, physics, chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, immunology, and cancer research will be able to conduct research in the NCL. Additionally, the NCL will sponsor seminars and workshops to familiarize and equip intramural and extramural researchers with nano-biotechnology protocols and capabilities.

National Cancer InstituteDepartment of Health and Human ServicesNational Institutes of HealthFirstGov.govNCI - Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer
National Cancer Institute U.S. National Institutes of Health Nanotechnology Characterization Lab