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Nanomedicines for the Research, Detection, and Treatment of Cancer and Allied Diseases

July 21, 2022 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am EDT

Date: Thursday July 21, 2022

Time: 10:00am – 11:00am

Location: Donnelly Centre

160 College Street, 2nd Floor, Red Seminar Room


Dr. Daniel A. Heller, PhD Cornell University



We develop nanotechnologies to accelerate the research, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer and allied diseases. We focus on nanoparticle drug delivery systems and nanosensor-based diagnostics and drug discovery tools.

To build better cancer therapeutics, we investigate the potential to improve the therapeutic index of precision medicines via nanomedicine-based strategies to localize drugs to tumors using vascular targets. We developed machine learning processes to facilitate the encapsulation of diverse drug classes into these nanoparticles, based on drug molecular structure, resulting in the rapid synthesis of many, diverse, targeted nanotherapeutics. We found that P-selectin, expressed endogenously on activated endothelium in tumors, can be used as a nanotherapeutic target improve the efficacy of kinase inhibitors and abrogate dose-limiting toxicities, to improve therapeutic index. P-selectin can also be induced via ionizing radiation, enabling the enhancement of the target. We also found that endothelial targeting can improve delivery across intact blood-brain barrier for the treatment of intracranial tumors and metastases, via activating transendothelial transport.

We also develop optical nanosensor technologies using carbon nanotubes to facilitate longitudinal detection of cancer biomarkers, and to build new assays for cancer drug development. These technologies employ the bandgap fluorescence of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) which emit in the near-infrared “tissue transparent” window and can respond to analytes down to the single-molecule level. We have developed new sensors for the detection of metabolic changes in live cells and tissues, disease biomarkers in situ via implants, and overall disease states, aided by machine learning processes.


Dr. Daniel A. Heller, PhD, is Head of the Cancer Nanomedicine Laboratory, Bristol-Myers Squibb/James D. Robinson III Junior Faculty Chair, an Associate Member in the Molecular Pharmacology Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medicine, and a member of the Graduate Field Faculty in the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University. His

work focuses on the development of nanoscale technologies for the treatment, diagnosis, and research of cancer. Dr. Heller obtained his PhD in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2010, working in the laboratory of Michael Strano. He completed a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in the laboratory of Robert Langer at the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT in 2012. He is a 2012 recipient of the National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award, a 2015 Kavli Fellow, a 2017 recipient of the Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research, a 2018 American Cancer Society Research Scholar, a 2018 recipient of the CRS Nanomedicine and Nanoscale Drug Delivery Focus Group Junior Faculty Award, a 2018 NSF CAREER Awardee, a 2020 awardee of the Weill Cornell Graduate School Pharmacology Teaching and Mentoring Award, and a 2021 American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) Fellow.

Hosted by Dr. Molly Shoichet

Snacks and refreshments will be served