Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence
and Translation (CCNE-T)

Core Resources

Core 1 - Nanoinformatics - Discontinued

Nanotechnology, and nanoparticles in particular, offer a daunting engineering problem due to the high-dimensional exponential design space for nanoparticles1,2. Well-organized and computationally-accessible knowledge will expedite the development of effective nanoparticles and nanodevices against cancer.

The amount of biomedical nanotechnology information in the scientific literature has been growing exponentially for at least a decade3. Direct access to structured nanocharacterization data has, however, lagged significantly despite the enormous benefit it would bring. Over the 3.5 years, our core has worked within our CCNE, across the NCI Alliance, and with other major organizations in order to lay the foundation of cancer nanoinformatics and to help develop just such a resource.

This Nanoinformatics Core (Core 1) is dedicated to nanotechnology informatics, consisting of data analysis and knowledge management, within the Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence and Translation (CCNE-T) as well as across the NCI Alliance. Core 1 will have two broad goals as shown below:

Goal 1: Address the nanoinformatics needs of CCNE-T research projects and cores by facilitating representation and delivery of nanocharacterization data to caNanoLab as well as answering the information retrieval needs of CCNE-T researchers.

Goal 2: Organize, lead and participate in an NCI Alliance-wide community that is devoted to nanoinformatics standards development, both from the infrastructure/implementation perspective as well as the end-user perspective and facilitate data sharing within our center as well as across the NCI Alliance.

Within the CCNE-T, this nanoinformatics core has a special role in facilitating the interactions between different NCI Alliance members, especially from a data exchange perspective. Although one cannot predict the future CCNE centers, our core has demonstrated leadership in defining and addressing the problems in the nascent area of nanoinformatics and plans to continue and expand this effort.

Core 2 - Nanocharacterization and Nanofabrication Core (Robert Sinclair Core Director, Mary Tang; and Richard Chin)

Core 2 consists of the Stanford Nanocharacterization Laboratory (SNL, providing resources for analysis of micro- and nano- structures and the Stanford Nanofabrication Facility (SNF, offering resources for fabrication.  This new core represents a merging of Cores 1 and 2 of the original CCNE-TR program.  By integrating fabrication and analysis services, this Core will be positioned to provide complete and essential nanotechnology and engineering support for the projects in this Center as well as perform original research associated with its mission.

The Stanford Nanofabrication Facility and the Stanford Nanocharacterization Laboratory (SNF/SNL) together comprise the Stanford site of NSF‘s National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN), a partnership of 13 Universities across the country committed to providing nanofabrication resources to researchers everywhere.  As one of the original Network members, SNF has nearly 15 years of experience as an open user facility.  Four years ago, as the Network was restructured to provide more comprehensive and integrated services, the SNL joined SNF in the NNIN, thus making nanocharacterization as well as nanofabrication resources available to all lab members.  Now, over 250 researchers make use of SNF and SNL facilities each month; more than 600 over the course of a year.  Each month, about 25 new researchers join, with 10% from other Universities and about 20% from industry.  The SNF/SNL is primarily user-based, where researchers are trained to operate lab equipment, but with knowledgeable staff also available to provide processing and analytical services as needed. 

The SNL, itself, was established in 2002 as a multi-user facility mainly serving graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.  Typically over 350 users use the instruments per year.  The physical space was renovated in 2005 to become a more “open” style lab to foster more cross-talk and collaboration among users, and to all reports, it has been successful in doing so.

Core 3 - Clinical and Translational and Integration Core (Mark Stolowitz Core Director; Anna Wu; and David Agus)

We have identified the critical requirement to have a clinical translational core within the CCNE to coordinate application of our nanotechnologies to patient blood samples already collected and archived by other efforts. This core was not part of the original CCNE, but as we have started to apply our technologies to clinical specimens we feel it is an important core going forward in our renewal. For both blood protein biomarker and circulating tumor cell studies, the goal of this core is to utilize specimens already collected and prospectively being collected by other efforts (e.g., NCI ICMIC P50) in a systematic fashion with our nano-sensors being developed in RP2 and RP3. In addition, for the in vivo molecular imaging studies (endoscopic Raman imaging, photoacoustic molecular imaging) the goal of this core is to work with the NCI nanocharacterization labs and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order to translate our nanoparticles into future clinical molecular imaging trials. Note, it is not the purpose of this core to actually collect samples from patients or to perform clinical trials, , but just to facilitate clinical translation of nanotechnologies developed in the CCNE. Note also that the CCNE mechanism does not allow funding for prospective clinical trials, but by having this core we can bridge to other funded activities as well as apply for new funding for our clinical trials, to which we are whole-heartedly committed. In addition, the Canary Foundation is providing significant funding (in excess of $3M) for clinical trials for early cancer detection and providing partial funding for this and other cores.

Core 4 - Administration Core (Sanjiv Sam Gambhir Core Director; Shan Wang; and Demir Akin)

The multidisciplinary/multiinstitutional CCNE program requires integration of sequential steps in complex translational development pathways, and also very high levels of interaction to accomplish its goals. This necessitates the formation of a dedicated and highly experienced administrative and management team, and allocation of appropriate resources to this team, to achieve the program milestones in a timely manner. In our current CCNE, we have formed such an exceptional team with complementary areas of expertise. This team has been formally in operation, successfully, for the last 3.5 years of the CCNE-TR, and we will carry on this same proven-effective structure in the current application. The administrative team will be composed of Drs. Sam Gambhir (Core PI), Shan Wang (co-PI), Demir Akin (Deputy Director), and Ms. Billie Robles (Program Coordinator). For information on Drs Gambhir, Wang and Akin. Dr. Akin has currently been serving as the Deputy Director of the CCNE-TR, and as the Administrative Core leader for the last 2 years and he will bring this expertise to the CCNE-T in support of the Core PI and co-PI. Dr. Akin is a nanomedical scientist with over 20 years of formal education in biomedical sciences and more than 8 years of direct Nanomedicine and supervisory/managerial skills derived from his work experience at Purdue University where he served as the Manager of the multi-disciplinary and multi-investigator BioMEMS and Nanobio Laboratories (6 shared user labs) at the Birck Nanotechnology Center. At Birck, he directed the biomedically relevant micro-nanotechnology research operations within the collaborating groups, and also held a faulty appointment in the Biomedical Engineering Department where he performed his own interdisciplinary research in the areas of diagnostic and therapeutic micro/nano devices, drug delivery and single molecule biomedical nanosensing and imaging. During the past two years, Dr. Akin has become involved with the entire CCNE-TR center activities and has been working with Dr. Gambhir (PI of CCNE-TR) in administration and management of the current center. Dr. Gambhir is an exceptional leader and manager. Due to the complexity of the CCNE U54 mechanism, and the necessity for daily, close oversight of the multiple managerial, fiscal and scientific aspects of the center, the administrative skills that Dr. Akin brings will be essential for the administrative oversight of center activities. On the administrative/budgetary/logistical front, Ms. Billie Robles (Program Coordinator) has been serving this function since the beginning of the grant, and has gained tremendous experience in this role; she will continue to serve in the same role and work directly and very closely on a daily basis with Dr. Akin to enable him to assure effective operation of the center. Together the administrative core will be responsible for the daily in-synch operations of all center activities from both a scientific and managerial/fiscal/logistical perspective. Drs. Gambhir and Wang will also provide mid- to long-term decision support to the Administrative Core.