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Who We Are

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The Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) is a federal national laboratory operated by Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc. under sponsorship of the National Cancer Institute, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The Frederick National Lab collaborates with public and private partners to address urgent problems in biomedical research -- 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

  • 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

    Cooperative Research and Development

    Frederick National Lab's Biopharmaceutical Development Program responded to an urgent need by manufacturing clinical supplies of a monoclonal antibody that proved effective in human trials and ultimately won approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for commercial use. The antibody, ch14.18, was shown to be effective against high-risk neuroblastoma, a cancer of nerve tissue that is relatively rare but one of the most common in young children. In a large clinical trial in 2010, the antibody proved effective, in combination with other drugs, in extending survival rates. Because the drug combination was so effective, the trial was modified to allow all enrolled children to receive the medication. As a bridge to commercialization, Frederick National Lab met the immediate need for supplies of the antibody, while at the same time transferring the technology to a commercial pharmaceutical manufacturer, United Therapeutics Corp., under an NCI Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA).

  • 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

    Nanotechnology Gives Failed Cancer Drugs a Second Life

    The Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory, part of the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, is leading the way in medical applications of nanotechnology, including diagnostics, imaging technologies, and targeted cancer therapies. NCL is a national resource and knowledge base for all cancer researchers to assist in the regulatory review of nanotechnologies intended for cancer therapies and diagnostics. By providing the critical infrastructure and characterization services to researchers across the country, NCL accelerates the transition of basic nanoscale particles and devices into clinical applications to help cancer patients. In collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the NCL has developed protocols for the thorough characterization of nanoparticles, making them suitable for clinical studies. The laboratory accepts proposals from investigators nationwide, has fully characterized hundreds of nanoparticles, and has helped move a number of candidate drugs into human clinical trials. Current projects include reformulating cancer drugs that previously failed clinical trials because of excessive toxicity or other issues. For example, tumor necrosis factor, a potent killer of cancer cells, was shelved after clinical trials showed it was too toxic and unsafe for human use. NCL worked with CytImmune Sciences Inc., which reformulated this therapy with nanoparticles, causing it to zero in on tumors and spare the rest of the body from ill effects. The drug is currently being tested in a new round of clinical trials.

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