As U.S. Vice President Joe Biden addressed the largest annual gathering of cancer scientists at the University of Chicago this week, he emphasized the urgent need for investigators to work together to find new therapies for the disease that claims more than 8 million lives worldwide every year.

With the emergence of the Cancer Moonshot Program, the Genomic Data Commons and related initiatives, the call for scientific collaboration has never been stronger. UTP company SAMDI Tech is a leading partner in this trend.

The company has been named by the National Cancer Institute as a specialized screening center for NCI’s Experimental Therapeutics Program, known as NExT. The program’s mission is to bring academic, private and government entities together to advance the search for cancer-fighting knowledge and the development of new therapies for those facing cancer right now.

UPDATE: SAMDI co-founder Dr. Milan Mrksich receives prestigious iBIO Innovation Award 

“We are thrilled to be among the select few contract research companies chosen for this dynamic program,” says Dr. Emilio Córdova, SAMDI CEO. “Our label-free assay platform will be an important tool in the NExT pipeline for discovery of novel small molecules as inhibitors for next-generation cancer targets.”

SAMDI’s breakthrough technology combines self-assembled monolayers and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization, time-of-flight to monitor biochemical activities in a label-free format. The platform eliminates the need for antibodies, fluorescent labels, or radioactivity, explains Michael Scholle, SAMDI co-founder and current Vice President of Operations and Technology (in photo above, working in SAMDI’s lab in 2014).

NExT appointees, who serve a 5-year partnership, include academic, non-profit and contract research organizations (CROs) focused on clinical research and development of new therapies. “We will be working with investigators at Arizona State University, Purdue University and other top research facilities,” Córdova says.

The company’s focus on high-throughput mass spectroscopy as a means of accelerating research results was key in NCI’s decision, he notes.

“Many top cancer investigators have used our research platform or know of it,” he says. “Our successful track record in working with them helped us gain the NCI’s attention.”

The appointment to NeXT puts the team in touch with a wider circle of cancer scientists, says Scholle.

“We’re proud to work with leading researchers, especially at a time when the drive to form new partnerships is especially key,” he says.

Company leaders will head to Bethesda, Maryland at the end of this month to meet with all NExT partners to explore the possibilities.

“Worldwide, I think we’re on the cusp of major innovations in cancer science,” Córdova says. “The understanding that cancer is not a singular phenomenon, but a cluster of diseases, is front and center. But the more we know about common processes that drive the growth of cancer cells and interventions that can slow or stop that growth, the closer we are to new cures.

“We’re proud to help researchers move past roadblocks they may have encountered in their work,” he adds. “Helping new therapies move into the pipeline and into the lives of cancer patients will be a very satisfying result.”

For more about SAMDI Tech’s novel, high-throughput solutions for research and drug development, go to