Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research

FLC Region

Security Lab



1050 Boyles St
P.O. Box B
Frederick, MD 21702
United States

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The Frederick National Lab is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and operated by Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc. The lab addresses some of the most urgent and intractable problems in the biomedical sciences in cancer and AIDS, drug development and first-in-human clinical trials, applications of nanotechnology in medicine, and rapid response to emerging threats of infectious disease.

Our scientists conduct a wide range of basic, hypothesis-driven research and collaborative studies, including genetics, genomics, protein science, proteomics, bioinformatics, high-performance biomedical computing, laboratory animal sciences, and clinical operations.

As a shared national resource, we offer access to a suite of advanced biomedical technologies, provide selected science and technology services, and maintain vast repositories of research materials available to biomedical investigators nationwide. These research materials include more than 15 million biological specimens, frozen tumor samples, research reagents, and genetically engineered mouse models of human cancers.

The Frederick National Lab partners with external researchers in government, academia, industry, and the nonprofit research community to drive impactful research. By working together, we accelerate progress against cancer and AIDS by bridging the gap between late discovery and early development of diagnostics and therapeutics, creating cross-cutting technology platforms, and proposing new data standards. Our partnerships have generated numerous technologies and research tools available for licensing.

The Frederick National Lab has established a program through which outside organizations—including life science companies and other commercial entities—can enter directly into contractor Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) with the lab. These agreements enable Frederick National Lab researchers to work with external parties to conduct collaborative research activities and explore development of new technologies that are aligned with the NCI mission. Under the agreements, partners can have the first option to exclusive or nonexclusive commercial license.

Frederick National Lab scientists also provide services and solutions to collaborators through the Technical Services Program, whose portfolio includes more than 300 collaborations with more than 85 partners. The lab’s unique offerings cover HIV and SIV services; KRAS/p53 mouse models and cell lines for PDAC and NSCLC with assessment of drug toxicity, efficacy, tolerance, survival, and pharmacokinetics; 1,520 mouse embryonic cell lines with most known mouse miRNAs; HLA genotyping; expression profiling for human B-cell lymphoma on the NanoString platform.

The lab is accelerating progress in the fight against cancer, AIDS, and other infectious diseases; stimulating research collaborations; and creating opportunities for technology transfer and business and economic development. These activities represent the necessary investment to maximize the benefits of scientific discovery and innovation on human health.


The Frederick National Lab is dedicated to improving human health through discovery and innovation in the biomedical sciences, focusing on cancer, AIDS, and emerging infectious diseases.

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Advanced Technology Research Facility (ATRF)
AIDS and Cancer Virus Program (ACVP)
HPV Serology Laboratory
Laboratory Animal Sciences Program (LASP)
Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory
National Cryo-Electron Microscopy Facility
The Center for Advanced Preclinical Research

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A new chemical test available through the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research could accelerate human papillomavirus (HPV) research by detecting 40 percent more HPVs than the current gold standard research test.

There are upwards of 100 human papillomaviruses (HPVs), and these viruses can cause abnormal tissue growth and other changes to cells. Prolonged infection with certain types of HPV can cause cancer.

The test at the Frederick National Laboratory, an HPV genotyping assay, is provided through the laboratory’s Technical Services Program and is available to external researchers around the world. It can detect 52 types of HPVs, offering a substantial increase in coverage, and is less expensive compared to other available HPV genotyping assays.


“Currently, very few HPV genotyping assays are commercially available,” explained Nicolas Wentzensen, M.D., Ph.D., senior investigator and branch chief within the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, who was a key contributor to the assay’s development. “And most established assays are costly and laborious, which has limited HPV genotyping, particularly in large population-based studies with multiple rounds of specimen sampling.”

Therefore, a team led by Joseph Boland, director of research and functional genomics at the Cancer Genomics Research Laboratory within the Frederick National Laboratory, set out to develop a new assay that better meets the needs of researchers—an assay that is inexpensive, fast, and reliable. In doing so, the scientists developed an assay that not only fulfilled these requirements, but that is also able to detect more types of HPV than any other genotyping assay.HPV Genomics Research Group at the Frederick National Laboratory

Most commercially available tests only identify the common carcinogenic HPV types, such as HPV 16 and 18. The current gold standard HPV research assay can detect just 37 types—15 types fewer than the new assay.

“The strength of the assay is its broad type coverage with good performance across all types, particularly carcinogenic types,” Wentzensen said. He also explained that the assay is able to “strike a delicate balance between sensitivity and specificity, so that all clinically important infections, but not irrelevant minor infections or viral depositions, are detected.”

Among the 52 types detected are all 13 types known to cause cancer. HPV infections remain a significant cause of cancer in the United States and worldwide. The virus is responsible for virtually all cases of cervical cancer, and it can cause several other types of cancer.

Boland, along with Lead Scientist Sarah Wagner, and his team spent nearly two years developing the assay, which represents a novel and streamlined process. The assay can be run manually or automated, enabling a high-throughput workflow capable of processing more than 700 samples in just three days, and multiple batches can run in parallel for rapid turnaround times. This efficiency greatly reduces costs. In addition, like all the technical services offered by the Frederick National Laboratory, it is available at cost to external researchers.

“The idea is to make access to this assay readily available to more researchers, including those in low-resource countries,” said Boland.

By Victoria Brun, science writer, Partnership Development Office

Header image: A koilocyte is a squamous epithelial cell that has undergone structural changes as a result of infection by human papillomavirus (HPV). This image of a koilocyte shows human ectocervical cells (HEC) expressing HPV-16 E5 oncoprotein, and immortalized with HPV-16 E6 and E7 oncoproteins. Formation of koilocytes requires cooperation between HPV E5 and E6 oncoproteins. The cell culture is stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E). National Cancer Institute image

Second image: HPV Genomics Research Group, Frederick National Laboratory, that worked on the assay. Back row (from left): Michael Cullen, senior scientist, Meredith Yeager, senior principal scientist, Joseph Boland, laboratory manager, Laurie Burdett, senior sectional leader scientist, Ethan Dmitrovsky, Frederick National Laboratory director. Front row (from left): Mia Steinberg, bioinformatics analyst III, Sara Bass, associate scientist, Sarah Wagner, development associate III. 


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