Annette Khaled

Dr. Annette Khaled is the Head of the Division of Cancer Research and an associate professor at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences in the College of Medicine at the University of Central Florida.

Dr. Annette Khaled

Dr. Annette Khaled

Developing personalized treatments, harnessing nanomedicine and immunotherapy for metastatic cancers

Dr. Annette Khaled is the Head of the Division of Cancer Research and an associate professor at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences in the College of Medicine at the University of Central Florida. Dr. Khaled’s research spans both basic and translational areas of cancer research and involves the development of cancer therapeutics, nanotechnology and immunotherapy to treat the most invasive and aggressive forms of breast and prostate cancer.

The research interest of the Khaled lab is developing new cancer treatments, using cutting-edge nanotechnology and understanding the underlying changes that drive metastasis to discover new molecular targeted agents.


“As scientists and clinicians, we know that what kills most cancer patients is when cancer cells metastasize — or spread — from their original tumor to the body’s bones, lungs and brain. These spreading cells are medicine’s fierce enemies because they are hard to find, hard to target and hard to kill.”

-Dr. Annette Khaled


Dr. Khaled’s Research

Dr. Khaled’s lab includes UCF College of Medicine graduate students who are doing research as part of their Masters and Ph.D. programs
“My biomedical colleagues and I not only do research, we teach undergraduate and graduate students. So we are also training the next generation of scientists.”
-Dr. Annette khaled


  • UCF College of Medicine cancer researcher Dr. Annette Khaled has discovered a way to kill spreading breast cancer cells.
  • Her therapy is on its way to clinical trials.
  • Metastatic cancer cells that spread from the original tumor to the brain, lungs and bones are the leading cause of death for most cancer patients.
  • Khaled has discovered the peptide CT20, which kills fleeing cells. It disrupts the folding mechanism inside cancer cells mediated by a chaperonin. If the inner workings of the cell can’t fold into 3D units, the cell dies.
  • Metastatic breast cancer cells have especially high levels of the chaperonin; the higher the levels, the sicker the patient. By discovering how the peptide inhibits the chaperonin’s folding ability, scientists can develop multiple therapies for fighting metastatic cancer.
  • An advantage of the peptide is that the amounts that kill cancer cells do not kill healthy, non-cancer cells. That means using the CT20 peptide may have less traumatic side effects compared to most chemotherapies. As part of Dr. Khaled’s research, J. Manuel Perez, a former UCF researcher who specializes in chemistry and nanotechnology, developed nanoparticles to transport the peptide specifically to metastatic cancer cells.
  • The next step in the research is to put the therapy into preclinical testing and clinical trials, perhaps as early as 2018.
  • Khaled is the head of the College of Medicine’s Cancer Research Division and because of her research has been nicknamed “the cancer assassin.”


Dr. Khaled’s Research Update


“The Cure Bowl is a perfect way to enjoy great college football and support cancer research being done in your own back yard.”

-Dr. Annette Khaled

Dr. Annette Khaled Dr. Annette Khaled

What Players are saying about the Cure Bowl

UCF linebacker Mark Rucker dedicated the 2016 Cure Bowl to his aunt who was battling breast cancer.

“It affected me most when she lost her hair and saw her struggling a little bit, and so this game, I’m pretty much dedicating it to her.”

The game was equally significant for Rucker’s teammate, linebacker Shaquem Griffin, who said he is inspired by a family member battling the disease.

“Seeing her keep fighting and keep pushing, it just reminds us that anytime there is a bad play or anytime something goes wrong, you know, why can’t we keep fighting,” said last year’s AAC defensive player of the year.

“It’s more than just us when it comes to this game. Just like the name says, it’s the Cure Bowl. We’re fighting for a cause. We are playing more than just football, and that’s the biggest thing – that’s the biggest impact for us.”


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