Tiny Solutions for Big Problems: A Visit to the Lab of Daniel Heller


Chemist and engineer Daniel Heller makes nanoscale materials that are specially designed to improve biological research or solve clinical problems. Using their diverse sets of expertise, members of his lab work closely together to speed developments in cancer research, diagnosis, and treatment.

The day we visited the lab, team members were busy developing carbon nanotube­–based sensors to detect early-stage cancers, as well as nanoparticles to target drugs that treat metastatic tumors — but they still made time to eat lunch outside on a sunny day.

What follows is the video transcript.


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I have been recently diagnosed for endometrial cancer. After my surgery in mid- Mar 2014, I have now been advised chemotherapy. I am very scared of the side effects and was wondering if nanotechnology can be used as adjuvant therapy.

Dear Omi, we are sorry to hear about your diagnosis. This technology is still early and experimental. We would encourage you to go back to your oncologist to discuss what can be done to minimize any potential side effects expected with your upcoming chemotherapy.

For more information about managing the physical and emotional side effects of treatment, go to: http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/survivorship/physical-effects

Thanks for reaching out to us.

It is now nearly two years since I last interacted with you can you please update me on the status of your research

Omi, thank you for reaching out again. The nanotechnology research discussed in this article is still in the investigative stages and has not yet entered clinical trials.

You can find a full listing of clinical trials for endometrial cancer here to see if there is one in your area:


You also can learn more about treatment for endometrial cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering here:


Otherwise, we recommend you consult with your treatment team for your best options.

If you would like to make an appointment with a Memorial Sloan Kettering physician, please call our Physician Referral Service at

800-525-2225 or go https://www.mskcc.org/experience/become-patient/appointment

Thanks for your comment.

As I understand one area of your research is the use of nano particles to target drugs that treat metastatic tumors. In my case the drug that has been effective is known. So instead of chemo therapy can nano particles be used to deliver the drug(s).

Thank you for your comment. These kinds of nanoparticles are still in the early stages of being evaluated, and it’s too early to say how they will be effective, and with which drugs.