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Pathway to Independence Awards in Cancer Nanotechnology Research

The primary purpose of the Pathway to Independence Award Program is to increase and maintain a strong pool of new talented investigators focused on research in cancer nanotechnology. The program is designed to facilitate a timely transition from a mentored postdoctoral research position to a stable independent research position with independent research support at an earlier stage than is currently the norm.

Enzyme-Responsive Nanoemulsions as Tumor-Specific Ultrasound Contrast Agents
University of Colorado, Boulder
Principal Investigator: Andrew P. Goodwin, Ph.D.
Project Summary: The goal of this project is to design polymer-coated perfluorocarbon microbubbles and nanoemulsions that produce strong site-specific ultrasound contrast only in tumor tissue. This contrast will aid immeasurably in the early detection and imaging of breast cancer.

Inhibition of Metastasis-Initiating Cells by Chimeric Polypeptide Nanoparticles
University of Utah
Principal Investigator: Mingnan Chen, Ph.D.
Project Summary: Chimeric polypeptides are drug carriers, which self-assemble into nanoparticles upon drug conjugation. In this project, these novel polymeric drug carriers are used to develop a nanoscale drug delivery system to improve anti-metastasis therapy.

Nanoplatform Based, Combinational Therapy against Breast Cancer Stem Cells
University of Georgia
Principal Investigator: Jin Xie, Ph.D.
Project Summary: This project is based on a novel nanoplatform that is comprised of an iron oxide nanoparticle core, an amine-rich intermediate layer, and an outside coating layer made of human serum albumin. In this project, the iron oxide nanoplatform is loaded with a cocktail of therapeutic agents (paclitaxel, salinomycin, and tariquidar or siRNA that targets MDR-1 gene) and is used to treat breast cancer.

Nanotechnology for Minimally Invasive Cancer Detection and Resection
Wake Forest - Virginia Tech School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences
Wake Forest University Health Sciences
Principal Investigator: Aaron M. Mohs, Ph.D.
Project Summary: The goal of this project is to improve the surgeon's ability to detect remaining tumor intraoperatively using the unique capabilities of nanotechnology with innovative optical instrumentation. This goal is being achieved by developing self-assembled nanoparticles that trap and consequently quench near-infrared fluorophores, as well as by developing minimally invasive optical instrumentation.

Next-Generation Quantum Dots for Molecular and Cellular Imaging of Cancer
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Principal Investigator: Andrew M. Smith, Ph.D.
Project Summary: This project aims to develop a new class of quantum dots for highly sensitive and multicolor imaging of the tumor microenvironment in vivo toward understanding and improving nanoparticles drug delivery.

Theranostic Nanomedicine for Breast Cancer Prevention and Image-Guided Therapy
University of Massachusetts, Lowell
Principal Investigator: Prakash R. Rai, Ph.D.
Project Summary: The goal of this project is to use a nanotechnology and optical imaging based strategy for chemoprevention and image-guided treatment of breast cancer by targeting several key molecular targets in 3D cultures and orthotopic murine models.

Tumor Targeting and Diagnostic Applications of Glycosylated Nanotubes
Wake Forest University School of Medicine
Principal Investigator: Ravi N. Singh, Ph.D.
Project Summary: The goal of this project is to develop a new agent based on multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) for use as a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging agent for the diagnosis and monitoring of advanced breast cancer. It is anticipated that the nanotube-based imaging agent will serve as the basis for a multimodal platform for future combined cancer therapy and diagnostic applications.