• 2017 Technology Showcase
  • Precision Medicine in Cancer Treatment
  • The RAS Initiative International Collaboration
  • New research suggests that increased consumption of green tea may be an effective way to prevent cancer.

Who We Are

The Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research is a federal national laboratory operated by Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc. and sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. The laboratory works at the forefront of basic, translational, and clinical science with a focus on cancer, AIDS, and infectious disease. We operate in the public interest as a shared national resource, and collaborate with public and private partners to discover, to innovate, and to improve human health.

Scientific Impact

Frederick National Lab partners with university, corporate, and government scientists to accelerate research discoveries, develop new technologies, and help move new diagnostics and treatments to the clinic to benefit patients with cancer and AIDS.

The Frederick National Lab provides rapid response to disease outbreaks and emerging health threats, and serves as a shared national resource in the biomedical sciences.

View our Scientific Impact gallery.

The RAS Initiative

The Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) is an integral part of a coordinated research and development initiative created by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to further scientific understanding of cancers driven by mutations in the RAS family of genes. Researchers have known for more than two decades that about one-third of all human cancers—including a high percentage of pancreatic, lung and colorectal cancers—are driven by mutations in RAS genes. Thus far, RAS-driven cancers have been virtually impossible to treat successfully and, in some cases, are actually aggravated by current targeted therapies.

The FNLCR is enlisting collaborators from all sectors of the global research community with the goal of developing an open interactive research model to understand how RAS mutant proteins function and to solve the challenges of treating RAS-dependent cancers. It is a high-risk undertaking that, if successful, could result in major dividends for human health. Read more about the RAS Initiative.


The Frederick National Lab is actively involved in nurturing the community in which its employees live and work. Through its prime contractor, the national lab supports a wide cross section of nonprofit organizations and charities and national lab staff serve as volunteers for local charities and nonprofit organizations, participate in education and mentoring programs and hold leadership positions on the boards of community organizations.

View our Outreach page.

Business Opps

The Frederick National Lab offers a wide range of opportunities for collaboration and transaction with government, commercial, academic, and nonprofit organizations. These include formal research partnerships and collaborations, research and construction subcontracting, technology transfer, materials and supplies procurement, and laboratory products available from the lab.

Scientific Impact

  • pyruvate dehydrogenase

    Electron Microscopy Reveals Molecular World in 3D

    Although electron microscopy (EM) has been in the cell biologist’s toolkit for decades, recent technological innovations have revolutionized the use of EM to investigate structures of cells, viruses and proteins in 3D in unprecedented detail. For the first time, scientists studying protein structure with cryo-EM are able to visualize small, dynamic complexes at atomic resolution. But because many researchers lack access to the latest cryo-EM technologies, the National Cancer Institute is investing in a shared resource, the National Cryo-Electron Microscopy Facility. The facility is projected to open for use by extramural researchers in Fall 2016.

    In parallel, the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research and the Center for Cancer Research have partnered to develop the Center for Molecular Microscopy (CMM), a program that supports intramural structural biology research, while also developing new techniques for 3D EM. CMM researchers use both cryo-EM and focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM), a relatively new technique that can directly image fine details such as organelles and viruses in cells and tissues in 3D.

    With these two new resources, the Frederick National Laboratory is poised to contribute to a fast growing scientific field, one that has the potential to revolutionize both basic structural biology research as well as translational fields such as drug discovery.

  • ThinPrep liquid-based Pap. HPV-infected cells with mild dysplasia (LSIL).

    Single Dose of HPV Vaccine May Protect against Cervical Cancer

    A single dose of the cancer-fighting human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Cervarix™ appears to induce an immune response that remains stable in the blood four years after vaccination. This may be enough to protect women from two strains of HPV and, ultimately, from HVP-induced cervical cancer.

    These findings were published in Cancer Prevention Research and with the work of researchers from the Costa Rica HPV Vaccine Trial and the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research. The Costa Rica HPV Vaccine Trial is a long-standing collaboration between investigators in Costa Rica and National Cancer Institute.

    If these findings are confirmed in larger studies and for a longer follow-up time, it could mean fewer return trips to the doctor’s office for booster shots, and lower overall costs. This could be especially significant in developing countries where cervical cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer death in women and the success of vaccination programs are more sensitive to cost and logistical issues.

  • Biopharmaceutical Development Program

    New treatment for childhood cancer

    The Food and Drug Administration has approved dinutuximab (ch14.18) as an immunotherapy for neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that affects children, mostly under age 5. The Frederick National Lab’s Biopharmaceutical Development Program produced ch14.18 for the NCI-sponsored clinical trials that proved the drug’s effectiveness against the disease, which arises in infants and young children as a tumor of immature cells of the peripheral nervous system. More than 650 cases are diagnosed each year in North America. Half of all patients have a high-risk form of the disease and a poor prognosis. Dinutuximab is designed to benefit these high-risk patients. BDP supported transfer of the technology, under an NCI Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, to United Therapeutics Corporation of Silver Spring, Md., and Research Triangle Park, N.C., for commercial production.

  • AIDS and Cancer Virus Program

    Collaboration yields commercial products.

    Early in the AIDS epidemic it became evident that blood transfusion was a major route of exposure with greater than 5000 people/year becoming infected with the AIDS virus from blood transfusions. In 1984, soon after HIV-1 was discovered and adapted to growth in cell culture, virus infected cells were transferred to contractor scientists in what was later to become the AIDS Vaccine Program (AVP) at Frederick National Lab, for the large scale production of viruses to be used in the development of diagnostic blood tests. By the end of the first year, 131 lots of purified HIV-1 derived from >12,400 liters of cell culture were prepared. Accomplishing this task was facilitated by critical unique technical infrastructure capabilities and expertise at the Frederick National Lab (originally developed for the large scale propagation and production of retroviruses for cancer related studies) and the flexibility and rapid response capabilities afforded by the FFRDC organization. The Frederick National Lab scientists provided large quantities of virus, virus-infected cells and technology to the private companies that had received licenses to prepare HIV-1 assays. As a result of this close interaction between the FFRDC contractor staff and the private companies, commercial diagnostic assays were approved by the FDA within 11 months of receipt of the virus infected cells at Frederick National Lab. Use of these assays to detect and discard blood from infected individuals resulted in rapid decrease of blood transfusion associated infections to less than 500/year.

  • Technology Image

    Harnessing the Power of Nanotechnology to Fight Cancer

    The Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL) is branching out into two new directions: 1) The introduction of nanotechnology early in the commercial drug development pipeline and 2) The launching of a pan-European infrastructure for nanotechnology characterization.

    NCL has begun working with pharmaceutical companies on nanoparticle drug formulations early in the development pipeline with the goal of making cancer medicines more potent with fewer side effects. NCL recently signed collaboration agreements with Amgen, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer. Nanomedicine drug delivery systems have previously been developed for hard-to-treat solid tumors (e.g. breast, lung, pancreas). More recently, nanotech formulations are being targeted to blood cancers and metastases.

    Overseas, NCL is joining with eight other partners from France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom to make therapeutic nanotechnologies more widely available internationally. The European Union Nanomedicine Characterisation Laboratory, funded by the European Commission, will be the first translational infrastructure in nanomedicine in the EU.

News & Media