Student-Led Moving Targets Symposium Explores Cutting-Edge Developments in Drug Delivery Systems

Healthcare—an evolving field with constant shifts and challenges—requires adaptable solutions and forward-thinking research. The student-organized Moving Targets Symposium, held Thursday, August 17 on the USC Health Sciences Campus, showcased new discoveries in drug delivery systems that can revolutionize the field of healthcare.

“Drug delivery systems play a crucial role in healthcare, and they hold immense potential to enhance the effectiveness, precision and accessibility of treatments,” said PhD student Jiaqi Cheng, chair of the USC student chapter of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS), which organized the conference.

Speakers included a diverse group of experts at the forefront of drug delivery system research, including:

  • Eun Ji Chung, The Dr. Karl Jacob Jr. and Karl Jacob III Early-Career Chair and Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, and Medicine at USC Viterbi School of Engineering
  • Cristina Zavaleta, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Alfred E. Mann Department of Biomedical Engineering at USC Viterbi School of Engineering
  • Nasim Annabi, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UCLA
  • Janice Zang, Co-Founder & CEO, N1 Life, Inc.
  • Hovhannes Gukasyan, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, USC Mann

An annual tradition at USC Mann since 2001, the multidisciplinary student-led conference allows students to take their research out of labs and present them to colleagues and industry professionals. Winners of the 2023 Young Investigator Awards were:

  • Zipeng Zheng, master’s candidate, molecular pharmacology and toxicology. Project: “KNIME workflows for drug discovery using molecular similarity.”
  • Mario Alba, PhD candidate, molecular pharmacology and toxicology. Project: “Hepatic steatosis induced by bioactive lipids regulated by AKT isoform specific mechanisms.”
  • Shu-Yi Lin, PhD candidate, pharmaceutical sciences. Project: “A heterologous expression platform in Aspergillus nidulans for the elucidation of cryptic secondary metabolism biosynthetic gene clusters in Aspergillus fumigatus.”
2023 Moving Targets
Album: 2023 Moving Targets Symposium (Photo by David Zong)

For more information about the 2023 Moving Targets Conference, visit