Pharmaceutical Sciences Program

PhD Students

 

Hugo Avila


hugoavil@usc.edu | Video

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Biochemistry, California State University, Los Angeles

Research Interests: Drug Delivery, Protein Engineering

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Intracellular switching using genetically engineered protein microdomains

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Andrew MacKay

Year of Study:  4th

Awards:  NIH RO1 Diversity Supplement Grant (2018)

Leadership:  Vice President, American Association for Pharmaceutical Scientist (AAPS) – USC Student Chapter (2019-2020); President, Pharmacy Graduate Alliance (PGA) (2017-present)

 

Xianhui “Sharon” Chen


xianhuic@usc.edu |  

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Pharmacy, Peking University

Graduate Education: Master of Science, Pharmaceutics, Peking University

Research Interests: Cancer, Therapeutic Development

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Engineering chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) -modified t cells for enhanced cancer immunotherapy

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Pin Wang

Year of Study:  5th

 

Minchang “Min” Choi


minchang.choi@usc.edu

Graduate Education: Doctor of Pharmacy, Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey

Research Interests: Cell Biology, Drug Delivery, Molecular Biology, PK/PD (pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic), Sjogren’s Syndrome, Therapeutic Development, Therapeutic Targets

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Characterization of a cathepsin S inhibitor for use in an animal model for Sjögren’s Syndrome

Faculty Advisor: Drs. Sarah Hamm-Alvarez and Andrew MacKay

Year of Study:  2nd

Leadership:  Social Chair, American Association for Pharmaceutical Scientist (AAPS) – USC Student Chapter (2018-2019)

 

Maia Corpuz


mlcorpuz@usc.edu

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Biology, Chaminade University of Honolulu

Graduate Education:  Master of Science, Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Research Interests: Biochemistry, Cancer, Cell Biology, Gene Expression, Molecular Biology

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Defining the structure targets of RNA-binding proteins

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Zhipeng Lu

Year of Study:  2nd

Awards:  USC School of Pharmacy Culty Diversity Award (2018-2019)

 

Zhefu “Jeff” Dai


zhefudai@usc.edu | Video

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Biochemistry, University of Liverpool; Bachelor of Science, Biological Sciences, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University

Graduate Education: Master of Science, Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Southern California

Research Interests: Biochemistry, Cancer, Chemical Biology, Drug Design, Drug Development, Drug Discovery

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Antibodies and their derivatives as new therapeutics

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Yong “Tiger” Zhang

Year of Study:  4th

Awards:  2nd Place, USC School of Pharmacy Three Minute Thesis Competition (Jul 2018)

Leadership:  Secretary, Pharmacy Graduate Alliance (PGA) (2017-2018)

 

Fan Fei


ffei@usc.edu

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Pharmacy, Sichuan University

Graduate Education:  Master of Science, Molecular Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Southern California

Research Interests: Cancer, Cell Biology, Host Immune Response

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Targeting loss of HLA-DR expression in b-cell lymphoma with an inhibitory chimeric antigen receptor

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jianming Xie

Year of Study:  4th

 

Runzhong “Christina” Fu


runzhonf@usc.edu

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Engineering, Applied Chemistry, East China University of Science and Technology

Graduate Education:  Master of Science, Drug Discovery and Development, Imperial College London

Research Interests: Anti-inflammatory, Cell Biology, Drug Development, Molecular Biology, Sjogren’s Syndrome

Research Project or Thesis Title: Pathogenesis and treatment of Sjogren’s Syndrome

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Sarah Hamm-Alvarez

Year of Study:  5th

 

Hao Guo


guohao@usc.edu

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Xiamen University

Graduate Education:  Master of Science, Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Southern California

Research Interests: Anti-inflammatory, Drug Delivery, Gene Expression, PK/PD (pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic), Protein Engineering

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Sustained release formulation of cyclosporine a resolves the pathogenesis of Sjögren’s Syndrome

Faculty Advisors: Drs. Andrew MacKay and Sarah Hamm-Alvarez

Year of Study:  4th

Awards/Notable Items:  2019 Nanomedicine & Drug Delivery Symposium (NanoDDS) poster award from journal Pharmaceutics (Sept 2019); Featured customer of Wyatt Technology (May 2019); Recipient of the Foster Ocular Immunology Society Travel Grant from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) (May 2018)

 

Yaping Ju


yju@usc.edu

Graduate Education: Doctor of Medicine, Clinical Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Research Interests: Anti-inflammatory, Drug Delivery, PK/PD (pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic), Protein Engineering, Sjogren’s Syndrome

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Novel protein-polymer based delivery methods for immunosuppressant to treat dacryoadenitis in a Sjogren’s Syndrome mouse model

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Sarah Hamm-Alvarez

Year of Study:  4th

Awards:  USC School of Pharmacy Krown Fellowship (2019-2020)

 

Aida Kouhi


kouhi@usc.edu | Video

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Psychobiology, University of California, Los Angeles

Graduate Education:  Master of Science, Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Southern California

Research Interests: Cancer, Therapeutic Development

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy for treatment of ovarian cancer

Faculty Advisors: Drs. Alan Epstein and Andrew MacKay

Year of Study:  6th

 

Albert Lam


alberttl@usc.edu

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles

Research Interests: Biochemistry, Chemical Biology

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Bifunctional NAD+ analogue for profiling ADP-ribose interacting proteins

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Yong “Tiger” Zhang

Year of Study:  5th

 

Changrim Lee


changril@usc.edu

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Chemistry, Yonsei University

Graduate Education: Master of Science, Biochemistry, Yonsei University

Research Interests: Biochemistry, Drug Delivery, Molecular Biology, Nanomedicine, Peptide Chemistry, Pharmacology, PK/PD (pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic), Protein Chemistry, Protein Engineering, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Therapeutic Development, Therapeutic Targets

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Targeted elastin-like polypeptides as a modulator of intracellular signaling

Faculty Advisor: Drs. Andrew MacKay and Sarah Hamm-Alvarez

Year of Study:  5th

 

Wilson Lee


wilsonhl@usc.edu

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Chemistry, California State University, Los Angeles

Research Interests: Cancer, Molecular Biology

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Solving and targeting cancer mRNA structures and interactions

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Zhipeng Lu

Year of Study:  2nd

 

Patrick “Pat” Lehman


plehman@usc.edu

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Pre-medical studies, Thomas Jefferson University

Research Interests: Alzheimer’s Disease, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial Resistance, Drug Discovery, Fungi, Natural Products

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Synthesis of bioactive azaphilone libraries

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Clay Wang

Year of Study:  3rd

 

Rebecca Lim


limrm@usc.edu | Video

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of California, Davis

Research Interests: Anti-inflammatory, Biochemistry, Cancer, Cell Biology, Chemical Biology, Host Immune Response, Molecular Biology, Protein Chemistry, Protein Engineering

Research Project or Thesis Title:  A universal CAR-NK cell targeting various epitopes of HIV-1 gp160

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jianming Xie

Year of Study:  5th

Awards:  AFPE Pre-Doctoral Fellowship (2019-2020); 2nd Place, USC School of Pharmacy Three Minute Thesis Competition (2019); AAPS Young Investigator’s Award, USC School of Pharmacy Moving Targets Conference (2016, 2018); Moving Targets Symposium Presentation Winner (Aug 2016)

Leadership:  Session Chair Host, USC School of Pharmacy Moving Targets Conference (Aug 2015, 2016, 2017)

 

Tao Ma


taom@usc.edu

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Pharmacy, Shenyang Pharmaceutical University

Graduate Education: Master of Science, Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Southern California

Research Interests: Diabetes

Research Project or Thesis Title:  DNA-directed assembly of pMHC multimers for detecting low-affinity autoreactive t cells in type 1 diabetes

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jianming Xie

Year of Study:  5th

 

Mincheol Park


mincheop@usc.edu

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Biochemistry, University of Southern California

Research Interests: Cancer, Drug Delivery, Nanomedicine, Protein Engineering

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Elastin-like polypeptide as a tool to assemble biologically active nanoparticles

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Andrew MacKay

Year of Study:  5th

Awards:  Advances in Functional Materials Intl Conference Best Poster in First Position (Sept 2017)

 

Santosh Peddi


speddi@usc.edu | Video

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Pharmacy, Birla Institute of Technology and Science

Graduate Education: Master of Science, Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Southern California

Research Interests: Biochemistry, Drug Delivery, Drug Development, Nanomedicine, Peptide Chemistry, PK/PD (pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic), Protein Chemistry

Research Project or Thesis Title:  FKBP-elastin like polypeptides for sustained release of rapalogues

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Andrew MacKay

Year of Study:  4th

 

Christian “Chris” Rabot


crabot@usc.edu

Education: Bachelor of Science, Biology, University of Richmond

Research Interests: Biochemistry, Chemical Biology, Computational Science, Computer Modeling, Drug Design, Drug Discovery, Fungi, Gene Expression, Natural Products, Pharmacology

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Elucidation and activation of biosynthetic pathways using genetic engineering

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Clay Wang

Year of Study:  3rd

Awards:  Outstanding Teaching Assistant (Pharmacokinetics) (Spring 2019)

Leadership:  Chair, American Association for Pharmaceutical Scientist (AAPS) – USC Student Chapter (2018-2019)

 

Larry Rodriguez


larryrod@usc.edu | Video

Undergraduate Education: Associate of Science, Biological Sciences, Dodge City Community College; Bachelor of Science, Biochemistry, Kansas State University

Research Interests: Alcohol Addiction, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Drug Discovery, Molecular Biology, Pharmacology, Neuroscience

Research Project or Thesis Title:  The role of P2X4 receptors in dopamine signaling and disease

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Daryl Davies

Year of Study:  5th

Awards:  Dolores C. Shockley Graduate and Post-Baccalaureate Award (Apr 2019); ASPET Blue Ribbon Award (Apr 2019); NIH RO1 Supplement (Feb 2019);  AFPE Pre-Doctoral Fellowship (2017-2019); Inspire Award (May 2018); Society for Neuroscience Trainee Professional Development Award (2017)

 

Xiaojing Shi


xiaojins@usc.edu

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Biological Science, Tsinghua University

Graduate Education: Master of Science, Regulatory Science, University of Southern California

Research Interests: Cancer, Chemical Biology, Nanomedicine, Protein Engineering, Therapeutic Development

Research Project or Thesis Title: Engineering exosomes for cancer immunotherapy

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Yong “Tiger” Zhang

Year of Study:  5th

Awards/Notable Items: 2nd Place, 11th Annual USC Graduate Research Symposium (Feb 2019);  3rd Place, Annual USC Program in Biomedical and Biological Science (PIBBS) SCI-5 Competition (Oct 2018); PhD delegate of USC, The Globalization of Pharmaceutics Education Network (GPEN) Conference (Sept 2018); Travel Award for oral presentation at GPEN (2018); 1st Place, USC School of Pharmacy Three Minute Thesis Competition (Jun 2018)

Leadership:  Treasurer, Pharmacy Graduate Alliance (PGA) (2018-2019); Mentor, Peer Mentoring Program (2018-2019)

 

Shruti Singh Kakan


singhkak@usc.edu

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Pharmacy, Birla Institute of Technology and Science

Graduate Education:  Master of Science, Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Southern California

Research Interests: Membrane Transport, Parkinson’s Disease, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Bioinformatics, Neurodegeneration

Research Project or Thesis Title: Exploring serum and tear miRNA for biomarker discovery for early diagnosis of Sjogren’s Syndrome

Faculty Advisors: Drs. Sarah Hamm-Alvarez and Curtis Okamoto

Year of Study:  3rd

 

Alison Smith


alisons@usc.edu

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Chemical Biology, University of California, Berkeley

Research Interests: Cancer, Chemical Biology, Therapeutic Development, Immunotherapy

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Efficacy studies of a novel multi-targeted systemic therapy (αPD-L1/ODN1826) and deep-immune profiling of metastatic murine mammary adenocarcinoma in syngeneic immunocompetent models

Faculty Advisor: Drs. Andrew MacKay and Alan Epstein

Year of Study:  5th

 

David Tyrpak


tyrpak@usc.edu |  

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Biology, Clemson University

Research Interests: Computational Science, Computer Modeling, Data Reproducibility, Gene Expression, Bioinformatics

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Temperature mediated assembly of caveolar microdomains

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Andrew MacKay

Year of Study:  5th

Awards:  NIDDK Ruth L Kirschstein NRSA for Individual Predoctoral Fellows (F31) Award (Aug 2018)

 

Ryan van Damme


rvandamm@usc.edu

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Chemistry, University of California, Merced

Research Interests: Cancer, Computer Modeling, Molecular Biology

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Using RNA exonucleases to enhance PARIS resolution

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Zhipeng Lu

Year of Study:  2nd

 

Bo “Eva” Yuan


yuan984@usc.edu

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Science, Medical Microbiology, University of California, Davis

Research Interests: Drug Discovery, Fungi, Gene Expression, Natural Products

Research Project or Thesis Title:  Synthetic biology using CRISPR-Cas9 in filamentous fungi

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Clay Wang

Year of Study:  3rd