J. Andrew MacKay
J. Andrew MacKay, PhD
Gavin S. Herbert Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences
School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Viterbi School of Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Keck School of Medicine, Department of Ophthalmology
University of Southern California

Dr. MacKay received his SB in chemical engineering and biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1999. A Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellow, he completed his PhD at the University of California at San Francisco and Berkeley in the joint graduate group in Bioengineering in 2005. As a Kirschstein National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. MacKay studied at Duke University in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. In 2008 Dr. MacKay joined the faculty at the University of Southern California. Dr. MacKay is a full member of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. He has authored over 49 peer-reviewed publications. His work is and has been supported by the US Army, NIH/NIGMS, NIH/NIBIB, NIH/NEI, StopCancer, USC Ming Hsieh Institute, and the USC Whittier Foundation. His group explores biomolecular engineering and nanomedicine. At the USC School of Pharmacy, Dr. MacKay has deep expertise teaching drug delivery, nanoscience, and pharmacokinetics.

Jordan Despanie
Jordan Despanie, BS
PhD Candidate, Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSCI)

My research interests revolve around developing protein-polymer nanoformulations as anti-cancer therapeutics. My dissertation proposal, “Tubulin-based fusion proteins as multifunctional intracellular tools”, has received funding from both the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Changrim Lee
Changrim Lee, MS
PhD Candidate, Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSCI)

My project explores a new method for inducing receptor phase separation with elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs) bound to cell-surface receptors. Many cell-surface receptors are activated by lateral phase separation, which drives their downstream activation. This can  be initiated by ligand binding the receptor  yet, in some cases multivalent ligands (nanoparticles or antibodies) can drive superior clustering or activation. We are currently exploring this concept using the CD20 receptor prevalent in lymphoma which is targeted by the monoclonal blockbuster antibody Rituximab.

Mincheol Park
Mincheol Park, BS
PhD Candidate, Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSCI)

My project focuses on developing a regulatory chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) that targets B-lymphocyte antigen CD19. Often leading to complete remission, CAR T-cell therapy has immense potential to treat leukemia.. However, hyper-activation of anti-CD19 CAR T-cells has caused life-threatening side effects in clinical trials, such as cytokine release syndrome (CRS). One potential resolution to this problem is to develop CARs that switch on and off when necessary. My dissertation project studies elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs) that modulate CARs. I utilize molecular biology, protein purification, fluorescence imaging, and other biophysical techniques to study the opportunities for this strategy.

Hao Guo
Hao Guo, MS
PhD Candidate, Pharmaceutical & Translational Sciences (PHTS)

My research explores a new strategy using recombinant elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs) to solubilize cyclosporin A (CsA) to improve its safety profile and explore its efficacy in models of autoimmune disease. Despite  CsA’s potency in treating multiple autoimmune diseases,  it has poor solubility, poor bioavailability, and serious adverse side effects, including nephrotoxicity and neurotoxicity.

Santosh Peddi
Santosh Peddi, MS
PhD Candidate, Pharmaceutical & Translational Sciences (PHTS)

I was born and raised in Hyderabad, India.  I obtained a Bachelor's degree in Pharmacy from Birla Institute of Technology and Science-India before joining Dr. MacKay's lab. My research utilizes the cognate drug receptor technology to develop long-acting nano carriers for  hydrophobic anti-cancer drugs like rapamycin.

David Tyrpak
David Tyrpak, BS
PhD Candidate, Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSCI)

My project  focuses on using elastin-like polypeptide (ELP) fusion proteins of Caveolin1 and Clathrin light chain to reversibly control endocytosis through temperature-mediated phase separation. I’m particularly interested in applying systems biology and bioinformatic approaches to understand  the effect of endocytosis inhibition and activation on gene expression and cell behavior. Overall, this work may provide the science community with alternative and more precise tools to study cell trafficking, which is a highly significant process in both drug delivery and disease. I also work with my lab mate Zhe Li on a project studying ELP nanoparticle sorting and assembly in zebrafish embryos.

Anh Truong
Anh Truong, PharmD
PhD Candidate, Pharmaceutical & Translational Sciences (PHTS)

My interests involve the molecular biology of cancer as well as the development and delivery of biologics. I am currently developing and characterizing an estrogen receptor fusion construct that may modulate hormone-independent intracellular signaling.

Hugo Avila
Hugo Avila, BS
PhD Candidate, Pharmaceutical & Translational Sciences (PHTS)

My project involves using ELPs as intracellular switches for endocytosis. When not in lab, I enjoy crashing RC-planes, bike-riding, and looking for new places to eat around LA. Rumor has it, I can also be found at the Magic Castle eating lots of truffle fries and employing trickery to entertain guests.

Yaping Ju
Yaping Ju, BS
PhD Candidate, Pharmaceutical & Translational Sciences (PHTS)
Co-mentored, Primary PI: Sarah Hamm-Alvarez, Keck School of Medicine of USC, Department of Ophthalmology

I am working on a collaborative project between Dr. MacKay’s lab and Dr. Hamm-Alvarez’s lab. I am developing an inflammation site targeted drug carrier for Rapamycin to treat dacryoadenitis in Sjogren Syndrome. Outside the lab, I like exploring good food in LA as well as developing my secret recipes. A definite foodie!

Zhiyuan Yao
Zhiyuan Yao, BS
Masters Student

I received my Bachelors of Science in Pharmaceutical Science from Sichuan University West China School of Pharmacy. My work will focus on protein-polymer based immunotherapies. In my spare time, I like exploring the city and taking photos.

Yue Wang
Yue Wang, BS
Masters Student

I received my Bachelors of Science from Central South University, China. I recently joined Dr. MacKay’s lab and am working on the Intracellular Switches research project. In my leisure time, I like running in the gym and traveling with my friends.

Yvette Kolodji
Yvette Kolodji, BS
Lab Manager

I received a Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. I joined the MacKay laboratory in 2015. My previous research involves rheology, neurology, biophysics and molecular engineering, and clinical research. Besides exploring the depths of science, I enjoy dancing, sketching, and hiking.

Adrienne MacKay
Adrienne MacKay, MS
Research Programmer

I have a Masters degree in Information Science with expertise in database systems and systems analysis and design. I have more than 15 years of experience and have been in academia for over 10 years working as a research and analytical programmer at various universities. My preferred database is MySQL and I have experience programming in a variety of languages, most typically Perl and PHP these days. At USC, I am in the Keck School of Medicine and happily work on research projects for my primary PI, Richard Watanabe, who studies the pathophysiology and genetics of type 2 diabetes. I have additional projects with the Department of Preventive Medicine and the Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute. In 2017, I joined the MacKay lab to support electronic laboratory notebooks, databases, and bioinformatics. Outside of work, I spend most of my time exploring museums and parks with my family. I also like to play board games, craft, and bake.



Suhaas Aluri, PhD 2013, Pharmaceutical Sciences
Siti M Janib, PhD 2013, Pharmaceutical Sciences
Martha Pastuszka, PhD 2014, Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology
Pu Shi, PhD 2014, Pharmaceutical Sciences
Wan Wang, PhD 2014, Pharmaceutical Sciences
Aaron Hsueh, PhD (co-advised) 2015, Pharmaceutical Sciences
Mihir Shah, PhD (co-advised) 2017, Pharmaceutical Sciences
Jugal Dhandhukia, PhD 2017, Pharmaceutical Sciences
Zhe Li, PhD 2018, Pharmaceutical Sciences

Suhaas Aluri, MS 2010, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Aarti Jashnani, MS 2010, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Sejal Parakh, MS 2010, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Mihir Shah, MS 2011, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Jugal Dhandhukia, MS 2012, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Vinit Gholap, MS 2012, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Jiawei Wang, MS 2014, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Dab Brill, MS 2015, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Santosh Peddi, MS 2015, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Hao Guo, MS 2015, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Shruti Kakan, MS 2017, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Xiaoli Pan, MS 2018, Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Jenan Abid (University of London), 2009
Lorcan O'Carroll (Trinity College, Dublin), 2009
Juntang Shao (China Pharmaceutical University), 2011
Fengfei Ma (China Pharmaceutical University), 2012
Marcello Martinez (University of Saarland), 2015
Zifang (Nick) Deng (China Pharmaceutical University), 2018

Ais Wu (USC, Biomedical Engineering), 2009
Sarah Park (USC, Biomedical Engineering), 2009
Alexa Hudnut (USC), 2010-2011
Renee Duncan-Mestel (USC), 2011
Isaac Weitzhandler (USC, Chemical Engineering), 2011-2012
Benjamin Droese (USC, Pharm D), 2011
Andrew Nelson (USC, Chemistry), 2012-2013
Jason Pang (USC, Biomedical Engineering, Physics), 2013
Derrius Anderson (USC BTG, Morehouse, Chemistry), 2014
Josh Christian (USC SHARPP, Diamondbar High School), 2014
Joellen Chan (USC, Biomedical Engineering), 2015
Aman Rai (USC, Pharm D), 2015
Anh Truong (USC, Pharm D), 2014-2017

Vinod Valluripalli, 2009-2011
Guoyong Sun (co-advised), 2009-2012
Joshua Gustafson, 2012-2013