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Center for SC Drug Discovery Team

Dr. Karen Lackey

Karen Lackey

Karen Lackey is currently the Director, South Carolina Center for Therapeutic Discovery and Development at the Medical University of South Carolina. In her capacity as director of the MUSC Center for Drug Discovery, Lackey is responsible for building a portfolio of innovative drug discovery projects aligned with areas of research and clinical care expertise that target unmet medical needs for the development of new therapies and medicines. The portfolio will include a focus on new medicines for the treatment of cancer, fibrotic and inflammatory diseases, and neurological disorders. Broader initiatives include creating strategies for drug discovery and development that will support industry partnership and collaboration opportunities for the Lowcountry and beyond. She also is the founder and Chief Scientific Officer of JanAush, a drug discovery company focused on creating life-saving medicines in inflammation, oncology, and kinase & signal inhibition. She joined Hoffmann-La Roche in 2010 as Vice President and Head of Medicinal Chemistry at the Nutley, NJ (USA) site, where she was responsible for oncology, inflammation, virology and new technologies until the site closure in 2013. In her previous role, she was the Vice President of Chemistry, Molecular Discovery Research for GlaxoSmithKline. Most importantly, she played an active role in the discovery of the dual erbB2/EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor, lapatinib, currently marketed as Tykerb. Karen has over 85 publications and patents, principally covering oncology, inflammation, kinase inhibition, gene family molecular design and cellular signaling.



Deirdre Luttrell

Deirdre Luttrell received a B.A. in Zoology for from Pomona College in 1979, followed by an AM in Zoology from Duke University in 1982 and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Virginia in 1989.  Following postdoctoral work at the University of Virginia and the Glaxo Inc Research institute, she joined the Glaxo Inc Research Institute as a senior scientist in 1993. In 2001 she joined  GlaxoSmithKline where she served as a Project Leader in Oncology and Metabolic Disease and then Manager in High Throughput Biology High Content Screening. She joined MUSC in 2004 as an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology.  She has recently taken the position of Head of Drug Discovery Biology within the SCCTDD at MUSC.  Dr. Luttrell’s long time scientific interests are in signal transduction and cancer biology, and recently she has been applying her knowledge of growth factor signaling to understanding the mechanisms of non-neoplastic disease processes, such as the renal and vascular complications of diabetes mellitus. At MUSC she has spent a great deal of time developing biomarker assays, working with the SearchLightTM and LuminexTM multiplex ELISA platforms to assay circulating hormones, cytokines and growth factors in human samples, and managing the DCCT/EDIC and VADT sample banks and biomarker databases. She has recently optimized assays for the high quality measurement of plasma prekallikrein, and in collaboration with the Research and Development team at Fibrogen, Inc., has optimized conditions for assaying CTGF in banked VADT plasma samples.


Dr. Yuri Peterson

Yuri Peterson

Yuri Karl Peterson received a B.S. in Biotechnology from Salem International University in 1996, a MS in Pharmacology from the Medical University of South Carolina in 2001, and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in 2004. Following postdoctoral work in enzymology and drug development at the Duke University Medical Center, and in cheminformatics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2008), he joined the South Carolina College of Pharmacy faculty in 2009. In 2014 he became Head of Computational Chemistry and Informatics of the SCCTDD. Dr. Peterson’s focus is in applied science using in vitro, cell based, and in silico approaches to quantitate protein and small molecule functionality to bridge between chemical biology and pathobiology. He works to link together the pharmacology of cell signaling, chemical biology, and cheminformatics. Yuri has over 35 publications and has contributed to the pharmacology of cancer cell signaling, the study of enzyme kinetics, GPCRs, G-proteins, the scaffolding proteins (like AGS, and arrestin G-protein regulators), prenyltransferases, methyltransferases, and lipid binding proteins.  He has also worked to develop bioassays, high-content microscopy, high-throughput screening, and cheminformatics to probe signaling and in the design and testing of experimental therapeutics.  His recent efforts were to optimize the use of small data sets to create rigorously validated 3D-pharmacophore models, 2D-QSAR models, combined with computational docking. These data serve to create hypotheses for ligand and drug action and to probe vast amounts of chemical space in order to prioritize labor intensive and costly translational experiments. 


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Andrew Lackey

Andrew J Lackey serves as the SCCTDD lead chemistry research technician.  He received his BS in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) in 2014.  Andrew has extensive industry and academic chemistry experience having research interns at    GlaxoSmithKline in 2009, Kainos Medicine in 2010, UNCC in 2010-2012, Roche in 2013, and the Medical University of South Carolina in 2013.  Andrew’s current position has is efforts directed to the synthesis, purification, and characterization of small molecules for SCCTDD projects. Andrew is managing safety aspects of the chemistry laboratories including appropriate chemical storage, labeling, waste disposal, and documentation. He is also a critical team member in the creation and maintenance of the South Carolina Compound Collection (SC3).