Cancer Researchers in Nanotechnology


Welcome to the Center for Cross Training Translation Cancer Researchers in Nanotechnology (CRIN). Our goal is to recruit and cross-train young scientists to bring the tools of emerging technologies in nanoscience, nanoengineering, mesoscale engineering, and imaging sciences to the care of cancer patients.


The goal of the Center for Cross Training Translation Cancer Researchers in Nanotechnology (CRIN) is to recruit and cross-train young scientists to bring the tools of emerging technologies in nanoscience, nanoengineering, mesoscale engineering, and imaging sciences to the care of cancer patients.

We are based at the Moores Cancer Center of the University of California, San Diego. UC San Diego is an ideal institution for developing competitive postdoctoral fellows, medical doctors, and predoctoral students as future investigators in emerging technologies and cancer research. In only four decades, UC San Diego has established itself as a leader in higher education, especially in the sciences.

We have a total of 14 research thrusts divided over four themes:

Nanoparticle assisted drug delivery

  • BioChemically Triggered Nanoparticles
  • Nanoparticles to Overcome Drug Resistance
  • Inorganic Nanoparticles of Drug Delivery and Cancer
  • Virus Based Immuno-Therapy.

Guided Nanotherapies

  • Sound Guided Therapy
  • Multifunctional Motherships
  • Ultrasound-Deposited-Enzyme-Therapy

Cancer Detection and Monitoring

  • Detection of Cancer and Circulating Cancer Cells by ex-vivo Blood Analysis
  • Cancer Detection by Nanotechnology Enabled in vivo Blood Analysis
  • Cancer Detection by Ultrasound Imaging

Emerging Technologies for Assisting Cancer Surgery

  • Automated or Enhanced Imaging
  • Biomolecular Imaging for Microsurgery of Metastatic Disease
  • Targeted Fluorescent Nanoparticles for Pancreatic Cancer Surgical Navigation
  • Ultrasound Contrast Agents

Our aims include:

  • Laboratory training and professional development in emerging technology oncology
  • Didactic cross-training
  • Outreach and dissemination
  • Recruitment of participants
  • Diversity recruitment and retention
  • Program evaluation

Course Work

There will be two tracks for didactic training, one for biologists/biochemists and one for physical scientists/engineers to insure cross training. All trainees will have didactic training in nanomedicine technology commercialization and research ethics.

Four types of didactic training will be required: 1) courses on emerging technology, cancer biology, translational medicine, and technology commercialization; 2) seminars and lectures by both program faculty and invited speakers on topics related to cancer; 3) research ethics training that is designed and offered by UCSD to meet the required of the NIH; and 4) annual attendance at the appropriate cancer research professional meeting. All trainees will be required to participate in at least six courses (3/year), as well as seminars, and online training during their two year period of training. The exact courses and the sequence of courses will be a joint decision of the mentors and the trainee. The training plan for each predoctoral and postdoctoral trainee and subsequent changes will be submitted to the program coordinator. The plan will be reviewed and approved by the training committee. Trainees entering the program will have education backgrounds either strongly biased towards biology/biochemistry or physical sciences/engineering. Therefore there will be two tracks.

Biologists/Biochemists: (a) two graduate courses in nanoengineering through the NanoEngineering program; (b) two graduate epidemiology and biostatistics courses through the NIH funded CREST program at the UCSD medical school.

Engineers/Chemists/Physicists: (a) two quarter courses in cell and molecules biology offered by the bioengineering department; (b) two basic cancer biology classes through the UCSD biology department.

All Participants: Both groups of students and the postdoctoral associates will take courses in advanced cancer biology and translational medicine through a lecture series.

Course Descriptions

NanoEngineering and Physical/Biological Science
Nano 247C – Bionanotechnology: This is new course that covers nanodevices and biosensors for both clinical diagnostics and biowarfare (bioterror) agent detection; nanostructures for drug delivery; nanoarrays and nanodevices; use of nanoanalytical devices and systems; methods and techniques for modification or functionalization of nanoparticles and nanostructures with biological molecules.
Nano 262 – Nanosensors: This is new course that covers the principles and applications of sensors and biosensors based on the use of nanomaterials such as nanotubes, nanowires and nanoparticles. Special attention is given to transduction modes, various biorecognition elements, and the interface of the biological layer and the physical transducer.
CENG 207 – NanoMedicine: teaches the latest scientific developments and discoveries in the field of nanomedicine and the use of precisely engineered nanomaterials at t length scale of 1-100 nm to develop novel therapeutic and diagnostic modalities for medical applications. Use nanomedicine-centric applications to teach the underlying engineering principles such as the laws revolved around molecular and particulate transport, sorting and binding.
MatSci 253 – Nanomaterials and Properties: discusses synthesis techniques, processing, microstructural control, and unique physical properties of materials in nano-dimensions that include nanowires, quantum dots, thin films, electrical transport, electron emission properties, optical behavior, mechanical behavior, and technical applications of nanomaterials
Mat Sci 258 – Medical Device Materials: covers the nature, properties, and applications of various medical device materials will be discussed. The devices include coronary stents, catheters, drug delivery vehicles, and other implant, surgery, or therapeutics related devices.

Courses from the Clinical Research Enhancement through Supplement Training (CREST) program.
Data Management and Informatics – teaches the regulatory requirements and best practices for effective and accountable management of data in clinical research settings, and an appreciation for the tools and methods that can be applied to research data management in a hands-on computer laboratory setting. It also covers orientation to database design and management and key issues regarding data handling for clinical research and clinical trials.
Biostatistics I – Understand and apply the principles of measurement of clinical data, data types, and identification of statistical methods appropriate for analysis of a given clinical data set. Assemble clinical datasets in formats suitable for analysis by NCSS or other comparable statistical packages. Conduct graphical and numerical exploratory data analysis, comparative tests of categorical, ordinal and continuous data, linear and logistic regression analysis, and survival analysis by life table and Kaplan-Meier techniques.
Biostatistics II – Understand and conduct more advanced biostatistical analyses including: multiple linear and logistic regression, survival analysis and Cox and extended Cox regression. Familiarity with person-time rate analysis and Poisson regression and longitudinal data analysis in the presence of missing values and varying measurement times.

Basic Cell Biology and Biochemistry
BENG 230A – Biochemistry: this is a graduate course especially tailored to the requirements and background of bioengineering graduate students covering the important macro- and small molecules that are either the major constituents or that function as signaling molecules or are involved in molecular machineries in cells. The structures, pathways, interactions, methodologies, and molecular designs using recombinant DNA technology are covered.
BENG 230B – Cell and Molecular Biology: is a general survey of structure-function relationships at the molecular and cellular levels. It places emphasis on basic genetic mechanisms, control of gene expression, membrane structure, transport and traffic, cell signaling, cell adhesion, mechanics of cell division, and cytoskeleton.

Cancer Biology
BIMM 134 – Biology of Cancer: covers basic processes of transformation and tumor formation in a two-part format. The first section is focused on molecular and cellular mechanisms of carcinogenesis. The second section discusses tumor pathology and metastasis.
BIMM 150 – Post-Genomics Biology: focuses on large-scale analysis of post-genomics biological systems. Students are introduced to methods for analyzing changes in gene expression, identifying protein-protein interactions, screening for pathway inhibitors, characterizing multiprotein complexes, and probing protein localization and function.
BGGN 235 – Biology and Biochemistry of Cancer Cells: covers recent advances in cell biology, biochemistry, immunology, and virology as they relate to cancer cells and their interaction with the host. Cancer research specialists from outside will be brought in to discuss the most recent evidence and interpretations in key areas of cancer research.
NANO 242 – Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: This course is designed to give nanoengineering students from a variety of backgrounds a working knowledge of biochemistry and molecular biology. While the course covers biochemistry basics and key themes in molecular biology, it will emphasize the role of engineering innovations.

CT2 Coursework Each course meets for 2 hours once a week for 10 weeks.
CT2 is a Lecture Series on Principles of Cancer Treatment Development. Topics include target Identification and validation, screening, structural modeling and design , Principles of GLP and GMP and toxicology basics, tumor models for preclinical testing, monitoring drug effect on target, pharmacogenomics, preparation and submission of an IND , phase I pharmacokinetic trials, phase II/III trials. Talks for the coming year include: (1) Tyrosine Kinases, Androgen Receptor and Prostate Cancer (Hsing-Jien Kung, UC Davis); (2) Immunology, Apoptosis, Autophagy, and Mitochondria: Life After Cytochrome c Release (Douglas Green); (3) Cellular Actions of Angiogenesis Inhibitors on Blood Vessels in Tumors and Normal Organs (Donald McDonald – UCSF); (4) Regulation of Tumor Angiogenesis by VEGF and Other Mediators (Napoleone Ferrara – Genetech); (5) Mechanisms of Oncogene Addiction: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Dean Felsher – Stanford); (6) Sequenom – Profiling Nucleic Acid Biomarkers in Cancer (Charles Cantor); (7) Functional Analysis of the BRCA1 Gene Product (David Livingston – Harvard); (8) A Malady of Genes (Inder Verma – Salk Insitute).

Coursework in technology commercialization through the Von Liebig center.
ENG 201 – Venture Mechanics: Provides a deep understanding of the core processes of innovation and new product/market development
ENG 202 – Enterprise Dynamics: teaches how to design, build, manage and grow innovative companies: It focuses on the CTO/VP level of an organization, which is the middle stage of an engineer’s career. There is a strong emphasis on direct exposure to real firms via a major project and through an interactive computer simulation based business competition.
ENG 203 – Applied Innovation: teaches how to plan and build new business ventures: It focuses on the CEO/Governance level of an Organization including the later stage of an engineer’s career as president or owner/founder of a high tech business venturing enterprise. The course concentrates on the development of real business plans in cooperation with real firms on new business projects.
ENG 207 – Corporate Entrepreneurship for Global Competitiveness: uses the medical device industry as an example to explore corporate entrepreneurship and the innovation process.

Plan for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research
Training in the responsible conduct of research (RCR) will be provided through both the mentored research and didactic components of the CRIN program. A central premise is that trainees need to gain a full appreciation of the ethical and social responsibilities of research. To this end all trainees will be required to successfully complete one of the Research Ethics Program courses. This will usually be “Ethics and Survival Skills in Academic”, “Scientific Ethics”, “Scientific Integrity”, or “Ethics in Scientific Research”. These courses are intended to satisfy the NIH requirement for instruction in the responsible conduct of research. They emphasize the intersection between the practical aspects of science (e.g. roles and responsibilities, writing grants and papers, and finding a job) and ethical decision-making. Topics include roles and responsibilities of researchers, data collection and ownership, issues relating to use of animal and human subjects, scientific and grant writing, code of ethics for authors, reviewers and editors, conflicts of interest. The specific course will be a joint decision of the mentor and trainee and will be included in the training plan.


If you are a graduate or postdoctoral student interested in translational cancer research in nanotechnology, you may apply to the CRIN program by submitting the following materials to both Dr. Kummel (akummel@ucsd.edu) and Tim Johnston (tjohnston@ucsd.edu):

  1. Identify two mentors: one clinical and one basic research who are CRIN faculty
  2. Submit two short letters of recommendation (<1 page), one from each of the two mentors.
  3. Submit three powerpoints for public disclosure: (1) the proposed research (remove all intellectual property); (2) a CV (no GPA, GREs etc); and (3) summary of education plan.
  4. Submit a ½ page educational plan and a ½ page research plan. For graduate students you need to show which courses you will take which provides cross training. See document below for details. You are welcome to request substitution from the list of required courses.
  5. You must promise in writing to attend CT2 lecture series, attend the Skaggs Nanomedicine lecture series, submit an F31 or supplement proposal to NCI by the end of year 1, and answer fairly detailed surveys required for evaluation of the program.
  6. Submit a CV, an unofficial transcript, and unofficial GRE scores (GREs only for graduate students).

Please review this document for further details regarding faculty members and their projects, education plans, evaluations, and sample student projects: Application and Overview


Co-Principal Investigator
Dr. Andrew Kummel
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093


UC San Diego

Moores Cancer Center

NanoTumor Center

Von Liebig Center

National Cancer Institute

Current Participants

Graduate Students
Student Department Clinical Mentor Basic Research Mentor
James Wang Chemical Eng Blair MD (Surgery) Kummel PhD (Chemistry)
Jeanne Lemaster NanoEngineering Hall PhD (Radiology) Jokerst PhD (NanoEngineering)
Yaou Duan NanoEngineering K. Zhang MD/PhD (Opthalmology) L. Zhang PhD (NanoEngineering)
Jiarong Zhou NanoEngineering K. Zhang MD/PhD (Opthalmology) L. Zhang PhD (NanoEngineering)

Previous Participants

Graduate Students
Student Department Clinical Mentor Basic Research Mentor
Michael Benchimol Elec & Comp Eng Reid MD (Medicine) Esener PhD (NanoEng)
Csilla Felsen MSTP MD-PhD program Bouvet MD (Surgery) Tsien PhD (Pharmacology)
Alexander Liberman Mat Sci and Eng Blair MD (Surgery) Kummel PhD (Chemistry)
Carolyn Schutt Bioengineering Mattrey MD (Radiology) Esener PhD (NanoEng)
Casey Ta Elec & Comp Eng Mattrey MD (Radiology) Kummel PhD (Chemistry)
Matthew Tyndall NanoEngineering Carson MD (Cancer Center) Heller PhD (NanoEng)
Cassandra Callmann Chemistry Mattrey MD (Radiology) Gianneschi PhD (Chemistry)
Ronnie Fang NanoEngineering Howell MD (Medicine) Zhang PhD (NanoEng)
Brian Luk Bioengineering Ball MD (Medicine) Zhang PhD (NanoEng)
Natalie Mendez Mat Sci and Eng Blair MD (Surgery) Kummel PhD (Chemistry)
Ajay Sapre Bioengineering Reid MD PhD (Medicine) Esener PhD (NanoEng)
Elaine Skowronski NanoEngineering Kipps MD PhD (Medicine) Heller PhD (NanoEng)
Ya-san Yeh Bioengineering Carson MD (Medicine) Esener PhD (NanoEng)
Postdoctoral Associates
Associate Department Clinical Mentor Basic Research Mentor
Carlos Huang Cancer Center Howell MD (Medicine) Wang PhD (Cancer Center)
Alexander Vezeridis Radiology Mattrey MD (Radiology) Tsien PhD (Pharmacology)
Richard Virgen-Slane Pharmacology Mundt MD (Rad Onc) Tsien PhD (Pharmacology)
Roy Weinstain Pharmacology Mattrey MD (Radiology) Tsien PhD (Chemistry)
Maria Proetto Chemistry Howell MD (Medicine)

Gianneschi PhD (Chemistry)


Principal Investigator
Robert Mattrey, MD, Radiology [website]

Co-Principal Investigator
Andrew Kummel, PhD, Chemistry and Biochemistry [website]

Lawrence Alfred, PhD, Chemistry and Biochemistry [website]

Core Faculty
Sarah Blair, MD, Surgery [website]
Michael Bouvet, MD, Surgery [website]
Michael Burkart, PhD, Chemistry and Biochemistry [website]
Dennis Carson, MD, Medicine and Director MCC [website]
David Cheresh, MD, Pathology [website]
Seth Cohen, PhD, Chemistry and Biochemistry [website]
Sadik Esener, PhD, Electrical Engineering and NanoEngineering [website]
Michael Heller, PhD, NanoEngineering [website]
Stephen Howell, MD, Medicine and Associate Director MCC [website]
Thomas Kipps, MD, PhD, Medicine and Associate Director MCC [website]
Andrew Lowy, MD, FACS, Surgery [website]
Tony Reid, MD, PhD, Medicine [website]
Georgia Sadler, MBA, MD, Surgery [website]
William Trogler, PhD, Chemistry and Biochemistry [website]
Roger Tsien, PhD, Pharmacology [website]
Jean Wang, PhD, Medicine and Associate Director MCC [website]
Jessica Wang-Rodriguez, MD, Pathology [website]
Liangfang Zhang, PhD, NanoEngineering [website]

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