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About the Nanotechnology Characterization Lab

Services Provided by the Nanotechnology Characterization Lab

The Nanotechnology Characterization Lab is a fully equipped, multidisciplinary resource for investigators developing nano-based therapies. Learn more about the services available through collaboration with the NCL.

The National Cancer Institute founded the Nanotechnology Characterization Lab (NCL) in 2004, in collaboration with FDA and NIST, as a public-private partnership to advance the science needed to expedite the development of promising nanotech therapies and diagnostics. The NCL’s initial mission was to develop an “Assay Cascade” of scientific tests that would help determine the reproducibility, safety, and efficacy of nanomedicines to facilitate regulatory review. NCL is the only lab with experience testing the wide variety of platforms used in nanomedicine. Since its founding, the NCL has tested more than 450 unique nanomaterials, including almost every type of nanoparticle used in biomedical R&D (metallic, liposomes, polymers, proteins, micelles, DNA and RNA nanostructures, carbon nanotubes, etc.) with nearly every type of active pharmaceutical ingredient (small molecules, peptides, proteins, nucleic acids, plasmids, etc.).



The NCL assists the extramural nanotechnology research community by providing characterization and formulation assistance. The goal of these efforts is to assist developers with preclinical development and clinical translation of their products. Characterization includes comprehensive physicochemical analysis, as well as in vitro and in vivo analysis of immunology, pharmacology and toxicology properties. Nanotech characterization services are available through the free Assay Cascade program and the cCRADA mechanism, and for select assays, the technical services mechanism. Nanotech reformulation services are available through the cCRADA mechanism.   

The NCL is located at the Advanced Technology Research Facility (ATRF) in Frederick, Maryland, with over 11,000 square feet of laboratory and office space. The laboratories are outfitted with two tissue culture rooms, an isotope laboratory, a walk-in cold room, several microscopy rooms, a chromatography and electrophoresis area, a spectroscopy area, a formulation/synthetic lab with chemical fume hoods, multiple customizable research bays, and open floor space for freestanding instrumentation and equipment. The NCL also has direct access to all resources at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNL), including those co-located with the NCL at the ATRF.


2021 NCL Annual Report

2021 NCL Annual Report


2021 NCL Annual Report

NCL's annual publication of metrics on NCL's Assay Cascade application program and nanoparticle research trends. In addition, the report highlights new protocols added to the Assay Cascade, structure-activity relationship studies, and nanotech formulation efforts. Several NCL collaborators are also featured for their advancements to clinical trials and to commercialization. Click here to read the full report.

  • NCL Staff Listing and Biographies

    Find biographies for the Nanotechnology Characterization Lab team. Together, NCL staff help to provide a thorough understanding of nanoparticles' physicochemical and biological properties in an effort to accelerate their translation to clinical trials.

  • Publications from the NCL

    A list of NCL's most recent publications. A link is also provided to a more comprehensive bibliography on myNCBI.

  • NCL Collaborators

    All of NCL's programs (Assay Cascade, cCRADA, Technical Services) are open to researchers from any institution. Non-US organizations are also eligible.