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First ‘Unconventional Innovations Program’ NCI Grants Awarded

First ‘Unconventional Innovations Program’ NCI Grants Awarded

BETHESDA, Md—Researchers at five institutions have received the first contracts awarded by a new National Cancer Institute program intended to develop novel “one-stop” technologies capable of both detecting and destroying tumor cells. The five contracts, each of which is for 3 years, totaled nearly $11.3 million.

The Unconventional Innovations Program supports “peer-reviewed, high-risk, high-impact ideas that have the potential to revolutionize cancer care.” Additional contracts will be let over the next 3 years.

“If successful, the research would lay the technological framework for a future in which people at risk for cancer might receive body scans or other non-invasive tests that sense the telltale early chemical features that are unique to developing tumors and eliminate them,” the NCI said in announcing the contracts.

Contracts were awarded to:

  • The University of Michigan, James Baker, MD, principal investigator; $4,427,711 to develop nanoscale devices for detecting and treating cancer.

  • The University of Pennsylvania, Britton Chance, PhD, principal investigator; $2,005,552 to study an optical technique using near-infrared light to identify precancerous and cancerous tumors.

  • The University of Alabama at Birmingham, David Curiel, MD, principal investigator; $1,780,510 to study a system to define tumor cell signatures.

  • The University of California, Davis, N. C. Luhmann, Jr., principal investigator; $1,611,670 to investigate a prototype compact device to produce high-contrast x-rays.

  • NASA’s Ames Research Center, Meyya Meyyapan, PhD, principal investigator; $1,468,957 to study a carbon nanotube-based biosensor and a prototype biosensor catheter.

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