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Department of Chemistry Rock Mancini

Mancini, Rock


Assistant Professor

Washington State University
Department of Chemistry
Troy Hall Room 222
Pullman, WA 99164-4630

Phone: (509) 335-1144


Ph.D., Organic Chemistry, 2012
University of California, Los Angeles

B.S., Polymer Chemistry, 2007
University of Pittsburgh


Dr. Mancini received his B.S. in Polymer Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh. He received his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from The University of California, Los Angeles while working as an IGERT fellow through the California Nanosystems Institute. He was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Irvine prior to joining the Washington State University faculty in 2015.

The Mancini research group uses the molecular control of chemistry to effect macroscopic changes in biological and physical systems. Researchers in the lab acquire expertise in synthetic organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, and chemical biology while working in several key research areas.

1) 3D Printable Cell Cultures: Several pairs of optically active compounds that associate upon irradiation with visible light have emerged from the field of optogenetics. We are developing a light-driven biochemical toolbox based on the active components of these systems. By attaching these molecules to cell surfaces and biodegradable matrix materials, we enable light-mediated control of reversible cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion in 3D space. This strategy has far reaching implications from the culture of organelles, to the growth of cells with stringent spatially resolved matrix requirements such as beta-cells in the Islets of Langerhans.

2) Cancer Immunotherapeutics: Pro-inflammatory immunostimulants activate the immune system and typically cause systemic inflammation; this limits their clinical route of administration to topical use. Tumors evade immunosurveillance, in part, through a highly immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. By adding targeting and burst-release functionality to pro-inflammatory immunostimulants, we can direct the resulting immune response to solid tumors, thereby overcoming the immunosuppressive microenvironment and training the body’s own immune system to raise an anti-cancer immune response.

3) Synthetic Macromolecular Asymmetry: Synthetic polymer-linked protein heterodimers represent a growing class of experimental biological therapeutics. Protein heterodimers are typically produced using combinations of grafting-from and grafting-to approaches with at least one conjugation reaction implemented post-polymerization. These multi-step procedures decrease reaction yields, necessitating extensive optimization for each reaction step.  We are developing reactions that result in asymmetric radical-radical recombination and using these methodologies to form protein-polymer heterodimers in high-yielding one-pot reaction sequences.

Now Hiring!

The Mancini group is looking to hire an exceptional postdoctoral researcher and new graduate students.  For information on our research group and how to apply contact Rock at


Pulukuri A, Opp LK, McDowell, C, Davaritouchaee M, Nielsen, AE, Mancini RJ “Imidazoquinoline Efflux is Enhanced by Overexpression of P-Glycoprotein 1 in Multidrug-Resistant Cancers” –under review

Davaritouchaee M, Chen S, Mancini RJ “Delignification and Enzyme-Diffusion Kinetics of Radical Systems Treating Wheat StrawIndustrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 2020, 59, 47, 20656-20666.

Burt AJ, Ahmadvand P, Opp LK, Kang C, Mancini RJ “A Ligand-Directed Nitrophenol Carbonate for Transient In Situ Bioconjugation and Drug Delivery“, ChemMedChem, 2020, 15, 2004.

Ryan AT, Pulukuri AJ, Davaritouchaee M, Abassi A, Hendricksen AT, Opp LK, Burt AJ, Nielsen AE, Mancini RJα, “Comparing the Cancer Cell Metabolism and Immunogenicity of Glycosidase-Directed Resiquimod Prodrugs Mediated by Cancer Cell Metabolism”, Acta Pharmacologica Sinica, 2020, 41, 9915-1004.

*Highlighted by Scientia: “Exploiting Drug Metabolism to Activate Immunity Against Cancer

Davaritouchaee M , Hiscox B, Terrell E, Mancini RJ, Chen S, “Mechanistic Studies of Milled and Kraft Lignin Oxidation by Radical Species”, Green Chemistry, 2020, 22, 1182

*Select article highlighted by the journal

Zhang CY, Lin W, Gao J, Shi X, Davaritouchaee M, Nielsen AE, Mancini RJ, Wang Z, “pH-Responsive Nanoparticles Targeted to Lungs for Improved Therapy of Acute Lung Inflammation/Injury”, ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 2019, 11, 18, 16380

Davaritouchaee M, Hiscox WC, Martinez-Fernandez J, Fu X, Mancini RM, Chen S, “Effect of Reactive Oxygen Species on Biomass Structure in Different Oxidative Processes”, Industrial Crops and Products, 2019, 137, 1, 484-494

Burt AJ, Hantho JD, Nielsen AE, Mancini, RJ, “An Enzyme-Directed Imidazoquinoline Activated by Drug ResistanceBiochemistry, 2018, 57, 15, 2184-2188

Nielsen AE α, Mancini RJ α, “An Enzyme-Directed Pro-Immunotherapeutic Activated by Muliti-Drug ResistanceCancer Research, 2018, 78, (Supplement 13), LB-065.

Nielsen AE, Hantho JD, Mancini RJ, “Synthetic Agonists of NOD-Like, RIG-I-Like, and C-Type Lectin Receptors for Probing the Inflammatory Immune ResponseFuture Medicinal Chemistry, 2017, 9, 12, 1345-1360. –Invited Submission

*Highlighted by Macchiarulo, A. “Immunotherapy… a Pursuit Race to Tomorrow’s Medicines” Future Medicinal Chemistry, 2017, 9, 12, 1297-1299.

Ryu KA, McGonnigal B, Moore T, Mancini RJ, Esser-Kahn AP, “Light Guided In-vivo Activation of Innate Immune Cells with Photocaged TLR 2/6 AgonistNature Scientific Reports, 2017, 7, 8074.

Hantho JD, Strayer TA, Nielsen AE, Mancini RJ, “An Enzyme-Directed Imidazoquinoline for Cancer ImmunotherapyChemMedChem, 2016, 11, 22, 2496-2500.

*Featured on cover of the journal

Mancini RJ, Paluck SJ, Bat E, Maynard HD, “Encapsulated Hydrogels by E-beam Lithography and Their Use in Enzyme Cascade ReactionsLangmuir, 2016, 32, 4043-4051.

Mancini RJ, Nielsen AE, Hantho JD, “Toll-Like Receptor Agonists Targeted to Cancer Cell MetabolismJournal of Immunology, 2016, 196, (1 Supplement), 144.3.

Mancini RJ, Stutts L, Moore T, Esser-Kahn AP, “Controlling the Origins of Inflammation with a Photo-Active Lipopeptide ImmunopotentiatorAngewandte Chemie International Edition English, 2015, 54, 20, 5962-5965.

*Selected as Wiley-VCH Hot Paper

*Highlighted by Chemical & Engineering News

Ryu KA, Stutts L, Tom JK, Mancini RJ, Esser-Kahn AP, “Stimulation of Innate Immune Cells by Light-Activated TLR7/8 AgonistsJournal of the American Chemical Society, 2014, 136, 31, 10823-10825.

Mancini RJ, Stutts L, Ryu KA, Tom JK, Esser-Kahn AP, “Directing the Immune System with Chemical CompoundsACS Chemical Biology, 2014, 9, 1075-1085.

*Highlighted by Powell, R. ACS Chemical Biology, 2014, 9, 5, 1063-1065.

Mancini RJ, Tom, JK; Esser-Kahn, AP “Covalently Coupled Immunostimulant HeterodimersAngewandte Chemie International Edition English, 2014, 53, 1, 189-192.

Tom JK, Mancini RJ, Esser-Kahn AP, “Covalent Modification of Cell Surfaces Improves Immune StimulationChemical Communications, 2013, 49, 9618-9620.

Mancini RJ, Lee JY, Maynard HD, “Trehalose Glycopolymers for Stabilization of Protein Conjugates to Environmental StressorsJournal of the American Chemical Society, 2012, 134, 8474-8479.

*Highlighted by Chemical & Engineering News and the UCLA Newsroom

Mancini, RJ; Li, RC; Tolstyka, ZP; Maynard, HD “Synthesis of a Photo-caged Aminooxy Alkane Thiol”, Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, 2009, 7, 4954-4959.


Mancini RJ, Nielsen AE, Ryan AT, Burt AJ, “Bystander-Assisted Immunomodulators Prodrugs and Uses Thereof” United States Provisional Patent Application, WSU OC 20/3335, March 31, 2020.

Mancini, R.J.; Nielsen A.E.; Hantho, J.D. “Enzyme-Directed Pro-Immunostimulant and Uses ThereofUnited States Non-Provisional Patent Application, 15/722,018, October 2, 2017.

Maynard HD, Mancini RJ, Lee JY, Lin EW, “Stabilization of Biomolecules Using Sugar PolymersUnited States Patent, 9901648, Issued February 27, 2018.

Mancini RJ, Esser-Kahn AP, Tom JK, “Novel Immunostimulants and Synthesis Thereof” United States Non-Provisional Patent Application, 14/458,988, August 16, 2013.