In 2008 the National Cancer Institute sponsored a meeting of researchers and experts, where a number of barriers to achieving progress in cancer research were identified. The result of the meeting was a series of strategic actions that represent the scientific challenges listed below that need to be addressed.

Scholars will work on projects that address the NCI’s key challenges:

Imaging and image processing

  • Improve imaging to give clinicians better information on tumor size, shape, and growth rate.
  • Combine optical imaging with interferometry to detect subtle changes in cells deep within the body.
  • Determine how to measure blood flow to tumors, e.g., changes in VEGF therapy.
  • Focus specifically on the development of technologies that can find tumors of 1,000 cells.
  • Create new software algorithms to process imaging data to detect subtle changes in tumor activity.

Area Faculty:

Biomaterials, biomolecular engineering and drug delivery

  • Amplify the target signal for both detection and therapy monitoring.
  • Develop methods to determine how much drug is getting into the target organ/tumor.
  • Develop new methods to administer drugs other than intravenously.

Area Faculty:

Micro/nanofabrication for diagnosis, delivery and high throughput screening

  • Develop nanotechnology methods to overcome hydrostatic pressure that blocks delivery of drugs.
  • Use new micro/nano-fluidic approaches to concentrate and identify rare tumor cells.
  • Use nanoparticles to study cell internalization pathways to improve drug delivery.
  • Standardize the collection of patient samples to use with advanced technologies.

Area Faculty:


Scholars will  have the opportunity to work on a rich variety of research projects within NCI’s strategic areas described above. The faculty has chosen engaging research projects appropriate for undergraduate students with no prior research experience for 10 weeks of work, including training. The laboratories of the 10 Core faculty members above provide a sample of the diversity of opportunities that will be available to Scholars through the 36 participating researchers.