North­eastern Uni­ver­sity has been des­ig­nated as a Center of Cancer Nan­otech­nology Excel­lence funded by a highly com­pet­i­tive, five-​​year, $13.5 mil­lion grant from the National Insti­tutes of Health’s National Cancer Insti­tute (NCI). The Uni­ver­sity will estab­lish the Center for Trans­la­tional Cancer Nanomed­i­cine where a mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary team of sci­en­tists, industry and gov­ern­ment part­ners will develop cancer treat­ments from dis­covery to delivery.

Through the new center—included in the second phase of the NCI’s Alliance for Nan­otech­nology in Cancer program—Northeastern researchers will create new drugs that target cancer cells, advance tech­nology on how nanocar­riers deliver these drugs, and uti­lize imaging tools that track how they travel through the body. The Boston Globe high­lighted theaward here.

The idea is that a lot of people are doing excel­lent research in the field of nanomed­i­cine, but in 95 per­cent of the cases this research ends with a good pub­li­ca­tion,” said Vladimir Torchilin, dis­tin­guished pro­fessor and director of the Center for Phar­ma­ceu­tical Biotech­nology and Nanomed­i­cine at Northeastern’s Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences. “The most dif­fi­cult part is the next step—if you have good results, how do you turn those results into products?”

Led by Torchilin, the new center’s research and devel­op­ment part­ner­ship includes Beth Israel Dea­coness Med­ical Center/​Harvard Med­ical School and Auburn Uni­ver­sity. The part­ners will work together to develop a con­tin­uous path from basic research to indus­trial pro­duc­tion of cancer nanomedicines—thereby nar­rowing the gap between dis­covery and early devel­op­ment of cancer ther­a­peu­tics and diagnostics.

In addi­tion to the Center of Excel­lence des­ig­na­tion, the alliance has awarded North­eastern dis­tin­guished pro­fessor Man­soor Amiji with a five-​​year, $2.32 mil­lion grant as part of the Cancer Nan­otech­nology Plat­form Part­ner­ship pro­gram. Amiji, chair of the Depart­ment of Phar­ma­ceu­tical Sci­ences in Bouve’s School of Phar­macy, will col­lab­o­rate with researchers at Mass­a­chu­setts Gen­eral Hos­pital to develop treat­ment for mul­tidrug resis­tant forms of lung and ovarian cancer. The work involves using nanopar­ti­cles and gene silencing tech­niques to more effi­ciently target tumors and reverse their resis­tance to anti-​​cancer ther­a­pies. The researchers will also create a library of nanopar­ti­cles they can screen and select from when treating var­ious forms of cancer.

This is an extra­or­di­nary accom­plish­ment for Vladimir and his team, and it is well deserved recog­ni­tion of the quality of his research,” said Stephen Zoloth, dean of Bouvé, which is home to sev­eral cen­ters focusing on biotech­nology, nanomed­i­cine, drug dis­covery, and public health research. “It is cen­ters of excel­lence like these that make North­eastern a hub of trans­la­tional research that can lead to break­throughs in cancer diag­nosis and treatment.”

The new center will help accel­erate the momentum of use-​​inspired research leading to impor­tant dis­cov­eries in health—one of three North­eastern research themes, including secu­rity and sus­tain­ability, aimed at solving pressing global challenges.

It is the respon­si­bility of leading research uni­ver­si­ties to solve the greatest chal­lenges of our time,” said Joseph E. Aoun, pres­i­dent of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity. “North­eastern has been at the fore­front of nan­otech­nology inno­va­tion and dis­covery in sev­eral areas of global sig­nif­i­cance. With this new center we are taking research at the fron­tiers of med­ical sci­ence to the next level.”

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is home to a strong base of inter­dis­ci­pli­nary nan­otech­nology research, and is an ideal loca­tion for this new center, which will col­lab­o­rate with other cen­ters of nan­otech­nology research. The George J. Kostas Nanoscale Tech­nology and Man­u­fac­turing Research Center at North­eastern, whichis part of the University’s Center for High-​​Rate Nanoman­u­fac­turing, as well as the Center for Trans­la­tional Neu­roImaging and the IGERT Nanomed­i­cine Sci­ence and Tech­nology pro­gram will all work in part­ner­ship with the new center.