Contact Information

Primary Contact

Marina A Dobrovolskaia, Ph.D.


8560 Progress Drive, first floor, wing D, room D1003
Line 2 (Optional)
Frederick, MD 21701

Additional Contacts

Rachael Crist, Ph.D.
Head of Client Relations Section


NCI established the Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL) to support the extramural research community to accelerate the progress of nanomedicine by providing preclinical characterization and safety testing of nanoparticles. It is a collaborative effort between NCI, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

NCL performs:

  • Characterization of strategies with proven efficacy for cancer therapy, diagnosis, or vaccines
  • Evaluation of novel, early-stage nanomedicine platforms with potential for cancer therapy and diagnosis
  • Evaluation of approaches intended to alleviate side effects, toxicities, and other adverse effects associated with cancer therapy
  • Structure-activity relationship (SAR) studies, technology advancement, and method development contributing to improvement of the cancer nanotechnology knowledge base

Considering the relevance of nanoparticles to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCL also supports the characterization of nanotechnology-based COVID vaccines and therapeutics.

Please visit the lab website at to view details about instrumentation, protocols and characterization guides.

User Guidelines

As part of its Assay Cascade, the NCL characterizes nanoparticles’ physical attributes, their in vitro biological properties, and their in vivo compatibility using animal models. This service is available by application, and characterization is provided at no cost for accepted applications. The NCL accepts proposals for the characterization of nanomaterials from academia, industry, and government. Proposals generally represent strategies that incorporate image contrast agents, cancer therapeutics, and cancer vaccines. A set of entrance criteria is applied to candidate nanotechnology strategies to aid in their selection and prioritization. Nanostrategies proposed to the NCL for characterization are ranked according to the measure of their projected impact on clinical cancer applications. The application process for NCL's Assay Cascade program can be found here.

The NCL also offers support via cCRADA and Technical Service mechanisms. These are fee-based services. For more information, please visit our website or contact us via email at