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caNanoLab General

What is caNanoLab?

Welcome to the cancer Nanotechnology Laboratory ( caNanoLab is a data sharing portal that supports the international biomedical nanotechnology research community to expedite and validate the use of nanotechnology in biomedicine. caNanoLab provides support to annotate nanomaterials with characterizations resulting from physico-chemical, in vitro, and in vivo assays and share characterizations and associated nanotechnology protocols in a secure environment.

Additional information on caNanoLab is available on the caNanoLab Wiki.

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Who developed caNanoLab?

caNanoLab was developed as a collaboration between the NCI Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology (CBIIT), the NCI Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL), and the NCI Cancer Centers of Nanotechnology Excellence (CCNEs).

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Does caNanoLab leverage any existing standards for describing nanoparticles and associated characterizations?

Standards supporting nanotechnology in the biomedical domain are emerging and under continuous development. caNanoLab leverages and extends concepts from existing standards developed by the biomedical and nanotechnology community. caNanoLab leverages biomedical and nanotechnology concepts from the NCI's Enterprise Vocabulary Services (EVS) and the Nanoparticle Ontology (NPO) Exit Disclaimer logo developed by Washington University. The caNanoLab team works with the biomedical nanotechnology community to identify and define concepts identified during use case analysis. New concepts are maintained in the NCI Thesaurus.

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Where can I find definitions for caNanoLab concepts?

Definitions to caNanoLab concepts are available in the caNanoLab User's Guide, caNanoLab glossary, and the NCI Thesaurus.

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How do I install my own caNanoLab system?

caNanoLab is available for download via the caNanoLab Wiki, in the Installations and Downloads section along with the Installation Guide and Release Note. The installation guide specifies general system requirements and instructions for installing the web application and database. All supporting documentation is available via the caNanoLab Wiki, Documentation and Training section.

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How do I incorporate caNanoLab into a data sharing plan?

It is the policy of NIH that the results of research accomplished through Federal support should be made available to the public. To meet this requirement, NIH applicants are required to provide a Data Sharing Plan (Resource Sharing Plan), as described in the NIH Data Sharing Policy and SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.  If you are applying for nanotechnology-based research funding that requires a data sharing or data management plan, you may find useful information in the document caNanoLab & Data Sharing   that can be used in your research proposal. The suggested text is based on the requirements for NIH Data Sharing Plans, but please feel free to modify this text to fit the needs of your proposed research. For additional information about caNanoLab or to reference caNanoLab, please refer to Gaheen et al., 2013, caNanoLab: data sharing to expedite the use of nanotechnology in biomedicine. Comput. Sci. Discov. 6 014010 doi:10.1088/1749-4699/6/1/014010.

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How do I cite caNanoLab?

Authors who use caNanoLab should acknowledge caNanoLab in their work by properly referencing samples. The majority of caNanoLab sample record information is curated from publications. For these, please acknowledge the associated publication and caNanoLab either by citation or in the acknowledgements section of your publication.

Please alert us by email of any publications that cite or acknowledge the use of caNanoLab to enable us to highlight it on our website. Below are options for including caNanoLab use in publications.

  • Example acknowledgement: "The results <published or shown> here are in whole or partly based upon data made available through caNanoLab: For questions, please contact the NCI Center for Biomedical Informatics or Information Technology."
  • General caNanoLab citation: Please cite the caNanoLab publication available at either Comput Sci Discover or Beilstein J Nanotechnol.
  • Citing published caNanoLab data: Please cite the associated publication when using information from a sample record in caNanoLab. Publication information can be found under the Publication Tab on the left-hand side Navigation Tree for each sample.
  • Citing unpublished caNanoLab data (no associated publication record): Please cite the caNanoLab sample page using the following format –Sample Name, caNanoLab Data Portal, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland. World Wide Web (URL: [Date data retrieved (month, year)].

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caNanoLab Functionality

What functionality does caNanoLab Support?

caNanoLab allows researchers to submit and retrieve information on nanoparticles and associated information including:

  • The composition of the particle including nanoparticle entities (e.g. dendrimers, carbon nanotubes, quantum dots, etc.), functionalizing entities (therapeutic, targeting, and diagnostics entities), and chemical associations (chemical associations, attachments, or encapsulations between nanoparticle entities or functionalizing entities).
  • Physical characterizations performed on a nanoparticle including size, molecular weight, shape, purity, etc.
  • In vitro characterizations performed on a nanoparticle including cytotoxicity, immunotoxicity, and general toxicity characterization results.
  • Protocols for characterizations performed on nanoparticles or general nanotechnology protocols from biomedical nanotechnology studies.
  • Publications from biomedical nanotechnology studies.

caNanoLab provides secure access to data and requires authentication and authorization for access to non-public data.

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How do I submit data into caNanoLab?

In order to submit data into caNanoLab, a user must have an account belonging to the data curator group.  Users can register for a login account by selecting this option under “User Actions” on the caNanoLab homepage ( Once a user has the appropriate account, the user can login to caNanoLab ( and submit samples and associated characterizations, protocols, and publications.


To assist in the data submission process, a caNanoLab Data Submission Video and accompanying transcript are available, as well as the caNanoLab User's Guide.

caNanoLab data submission workflowcaNanoLab composition and characterization concepts

caNanoLab Workflow

caNanoLab Adding Sample Annotations

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What types of data can I submit into caNanoLab?

caNanoLab provides support for a variety of different types of data including:

  • Nanomaterials and their composition
  • Nanomaterial Characterizations from physico-chemical characterizations
  • Nanomaterial Chracterizations from in vitro characterizations
  • Nanotechnology protocols
  • Nanotechnology publications

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Can I associate my publication with caNanoLab data?

caNanoLab supports the submission of publication information and the association of caNanoLab data with publications.  To submit publication information, complete the web-based submit publication form. If the publication is available in PubMed, provide the PubMed ID and caNanoLab will auto-populate the publication information. When submitting publication information, select the caNanoLab samples associated with the publication. This will associate the publication with caNanoLab data available for the sample.

In addition to associating samples with publication information stored in the the caNanoLab Data Portal, caNanoLab has established a direct reciprocal link between datasets and associated research articles published by Elsevier.  The current list of Elsevier journals that offer reciprocal linking as well as the future list are available on the caNanoLab Integration with Elsevier web page.

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Who can I contact to submit data into caNanoLab?

A data curator is available to assist in curating data from nanotechnology characterizations in biomedicine. Data curation activities on caNanoLab are currently performed by nanotechnology data scientists at Washington University and the Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL). Data curators assist in extracting data from publications and nanotechnology experiments, annotating extracted data, and providing overall data quality control. If you are interested in depositing your data into caNanoLab, please contact NCI CBIIT App Support: Application Support Telephone: 240-276-5541 or toll free: 888-478-4423 Email:

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What is a caNanoLab site?

A caNanoLab site is an organization that maintains an instance of caNanoLab and participates in the sharing of data in a federated approach across the caBIG grid. caNanoLab search facilities allow users to retrieve publicly available data from diverse sites by selecting the site(s) when performing a caNanoLab search.

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