Our core helps investigators evaluate promising novel therapeutic agents and diagnostics, as well as existing therapeutics being considered for novel uses (repurposing), through continued development and deployment of relevant animal models and in vitro cell lines and tissue models. We provide several services to investigators to suit many needs, including those who may lack laboratory facilities and/or expertise for conducting experiments associated with preclinical therapeutic hypothesis testing.

What do we provide?

  • Expertise in preclinical evaluation of new therapeutics (both in vitro and in vivo)
  • Access to animal models and laboratory facilities
  • Standard procedures and GLP-like documentation

2018 Outstanding Core

The Developmental Therapeutics Core (DTC) was one of three facilities to win the 2018 Outstanding Core Facility Award, bestowed on facilities that place in the top 10% here at Northwestern.


Proliferation and Apoptosis Assays

More than 200 cell lines are available for in vitro testing, including for determination of drug IC50 values. DTC is also able to assess the effects of therapeutics on cells grown in 3D culture or on organoid cultures.

Therapy-Response Experiments

Our personnel provide expert guidance in determining the most appropriate models for evaluating the efficacy of compounds and biologicals of interest. Services include experimental design consultation, animal procurement, inoculating mice with the cells obtained from culture or from PDX, therapy administration to animals, and monitoring tumor growth and response to treatment. We work closely with both the Center for Advanced Molecular Imaging (CAMI) and Center for Translational Imaging (CTI) to incorporate bioluminescence, MRI, and PET/CT imaging as needed.


Exploratory PK and Tox

Exploratory pharmacokinetics analysis can be incorporated into therapy-response experiments through organ and tissue harvest of treated animal subjects at pre-determined time points during treatment. Many projects require and include determination of therapeutic maximum tolerated dose (MTD) prior to initiating a therapy-response experiment with 7-day Repeated Dose also offered.  We work collaboratively with the Integrated Molecular Structure Education and Research Center (IMSERC) to provide full pharmacokinetics analysis as well as with the Mouse Histology and Phenotyping Core (MHPL) to evaluate treated organs and tissues for toxicity.

Device Implantation and Monitoring

We work with the investigators to implant and evaluate new devices in vivo through submission and approval of an IACUC protocol to surgical implantation. The core can then test the device, evaluate toxicity, and/or work with other cores and different imaging modalities.

PDX Models

PDX models offer the closest approximation to the clinical setting for testing cancer therapies, other than immunotherapies.  Consider working with us and our Patient-Derived Xenograft Tumor Repository to help translate your research.



DTC works collaboratively with the Recombinant Protein Production Core (rPPC) and the Peptide Synthesis Core to produce monoclonal antibodies from peptides.


Pricing information and a full list of services can be found here.


Xiao-Nan Li
Faculty Director
Simpson Querrey Medical Research Center (#4-522)

Nayereh Haack
Assistant Director
Silverman Hall (#B-729)

Collaborate with the Core

Looking for expertise?  Want access to advanced, preclinical animal models of disease?  Our lab is here to help.

Location and Collaboration

Our core is located on the Evanston campus in Silverman Hall’s west basement complete with dedicated wet lab, cell culture, storage, and office space, and is adjacent to central animal facilities.

We actively works with users across both the Evanston and Chicago campuses, providing a local presence and collaborative interaction to help guide:

  • study design including appropriate model selection
  • study implementation
  • interpretation of results
  • preparation of results for presentation in manuscripts and grant applications

 Seamless collaboration between campuses in enabled through free daily courier service to transfer samples from Silverman Hall to and from the Chicago campus as well as free weekly specialized transport of animals by CCM.


We provide an initial consultation regarding model selection, experimental design, and types of analyses to be performed. A study protocol and cost estimate are generated and approved by the user. At the completion of the study, data is collected and analyzed with a final report furnished in 1-2 weeks.

PLEASE NOTE: Our core maintains several blanket ACUC protocols to fit various user needs.  However, an amendment is typically required to add the test substance and administration procedure.  These require approximately 30 days to be approved. Your study cannot begin without approval if required.


Support of core facilities depends in part on proper recognition of contributions of core scientists on grants and publications.  Please refer to our publication guidelines for users here.  All manuscripts and grants presenting work supported by DTC should include the following acknowledgment:

“This work was supported by the Developmental Therapeutics Core at Northwestern University and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center support grant (NCI CA060553).”


We are always happy to help you obtain funding to further your research.  Below are some funding mechanisms at Northwestern to help support your work with us:

Chemistry of Life Processes Institute
CLP Cornew Innovation Fund
The goal of this funding mechanism is to jump start new transdisciplinary research that is collaborative in nature by enabling investigators to gather preliminary data in support of external funding applications.  This mechanism is available to all faculty formally affiliated with the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute. Awards (up to $50,000 for new team science) are made annually with applications solicited in early fall.

Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (NUCATS)
Voucher and Pilot Programs
Voucher (tier 1: $2,500) and Pilot (tier 2: $20,000) awards are designed to accelerate research by providing rapid, targeted funding to address small but critical gaps in clinical and translational research work.  Vouchers are awarded on a rolling basis, and pilots are 1-2 times per year.

Dixon Translational Research Grant
The Dixon Translational Research Grants initiative seeks proposals for highly innovative, multi-disciplinary clinical and translational research collaborations to accelerate the identification and implementation of new treatments that will improve human health.

Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center (RHLCCC)
H Foundation NCI Stimulus Awards
The H Foundation Stimulus Award is restricted to  members of the LCC basic sciences research program and is designed to assist faculty in procurement of NCI-funded R01 grants. The applicant must have submitted a first-in-career R01 application to the NCI that was scored, but not funded, OR received a score near the payline on a competitive renewal application

Office for Research
Bridge Funding Support for Research Programs
The Bridge Funding Support program provides interim funding to continue federally funded research projects that have a demonstrated likelihood of continued federal funding pending resubmission of a grant proposal. Requires matching funds from PI’s department/school.

Core Facilities Development Pilot Grant Program (CFaD)
The CFaD Pilot Grant program is an internal, peer-reviewed grant opportunity that supports developing methods or techniques within cores that directly impacts multiple principal investigators and are likely to lead to increased usage of cores in the future. Funds can be used to purchase consumables, services, staff and instrument time in one or more core facilities. Maximum awards are $15,000 and should be completed within 6 months of award notification.