Dr. James McKerrow, Ph.D., M.D.

Distinguished Professor
Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Distinguished Professor of Pathology
Affiliated Faculty, Division of Infectious Disease and Revelle College

McKerrow's picture
James McKerrow, Ph.D., M.D.
(858) 822-7801

Human Resources

Mandi Garhartt (formerly Walker)

Fund Management

Heidi Rosenthal

Research Summary

Dr. McKerrow leads a consortium of academic and industry scientists dedicated to the discovery and development of new drugs for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). This consortium, the Center for Discovery and Innovation in Parasitic Diseases, is focused on drug discovery and development through Phase I clinical trials. The Center pioneered the development of high-throughput screening assays for ten neglected diseases, ranging from single-cell protozoa like Trypanosoma brucei and Trypanosoma cruzi, to complex multicellular helminths (worms) like Schistosoma and Brugia. Over 30 companies have shared compound libraries with the Center. The Center includes expertise in structure-based drug design, encompassing both computational approaches and structure-guided medicinal chemistry, and maintains animal models of NTDs for proof of concept studies. Among its accomplishments, the Center discovered and developed a drug for Chagas’ disease through a successful pre-IND meeting with the FDA. The Center has also received Orphan-Drug Designation from the FDA for two drugs targeting NTDs in a “repurposing” screening campaign.  Finally, an anti-parasitic drug was repurposed to successfully treat SARS CoV2 in non-human primates. 

Academic Achievements

Education: BSc in Chemistry & Biology at Haverford College (1968); PhD in Biology from the University of California, San Diego (1973); MD from the State University of New York (1976) 

Awards and Honors:  Certificate of Recognition for Faculty Diversity, Southern Regional Education Board (2007), President's Speaker, American Society of Microbiology Annual Meeting (2007), Essential Core Teaching Award. "Outstanding Lecture Series," Class of 2009, School of Medicine (2009), Gregor Mendel Honorary Medal. Academy Council of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (2009), President's Symposium Speaker, American Society of Parasitology (2010), Scientific Lifetime Achievement Award from DDTD (2018)

Leadership Experience: Vice Chair for Research and Education, UCSF (2003-2012); Director, Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, UCSF (2002-2005); Chief of Anatomic Pathology, VAMAC San Francisco (1990-1996); Director, Tropical Disease Research Unit, UCSF (1995-2009); Director, Microscopy and Advanced Imaging Core, UCSF Liver Center (1997-2004); Dean, SSPPS and Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences, UC San Diego (2014-2022)

Key Contributions
  • Drug discovery and development
  • SSPPS strategic planning
  • Strategic partnerships with local industry
Potential Collaborative Programs
  • Collaborative research projects targeting neglected tropical diseases (Janssen, Anacor, ACEA, Astra Zeneca, GSK, Novartis GNF, Pfizer)