MacKay, Hamm-Alvarez Awarded $2.9M NIH Grant Renewal

J. Andrew MacKay, associate professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences, biomedical enginering and ophthalmology, and Sarah Hamm-Alvarez, professor of ophthalmology and pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences, were recently awarded renewal of a five-year, $2,968,575 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant for their project, “Protein-Polymer Nanomedicine for Sjogren’s Syndrome.”

MacKay, the Gavin S. Herbert Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at USC Mann, holds secondary appointments at the Alfred E. Mann Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the Department of Ophthalmology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Additionally, he is a full member of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Hamm-Alvarez, associate dean for basic and translational research at Keck School of Medicine of USC, is also vice chair for basic science research at USC Roski Eye Institute. She holds a secondary appointment at USC Mann.

Sjogren’s syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disease affecting as many as four million Americans, is often characterized by dry eyes and dry mouth. The condition often accompanies other immune system disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

In the absence of approved therapies, MacKay and Hamm-Alvarez propose to deliver the potent immunosuppressants, rapamycin and cyclosporine A, in ways that maximize drug bioavailability to the inflamed tissues at the root of this disease and minimize off-site toxicity, using safe and biodegradable protein nanoparticles.