Dr Gavin McStay

Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences

My research interests focus on the roles mitochondria play in aspects of eukaryotic life, ranging from their origin, metabolism, biogenesis and role they play in cell death pathways. These are interrogated using biochemical, molecular biology, genetic and cell biology techniques. I incorporate these interests into classes I teach to provide an understanding of practical techniques and also the current literature in the field.

I studied biochemistry at the University of Leeds, with an industrial placement at Astra Charnwood, followed by a PhD at the University of Bristol, supervised by Professor Andrew Halestrap, to characterise the molecular composition of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore, with support from MitoKor. My post-doctoral training on the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis supervised by Dr Doug Green was at the La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology in San Diego, California and St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. I then was an associate research scientist working in the laboratory of Professor Alexander Tzagoloff at Columbia University in New York to study biogenesis of mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase in budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

I held independent positions as assistant professor at the New York Institute of Technology in New York and Staffordshire University in Stoke-on-Trent where I continued my research and taught subjects related to biochemistry, cell biology, genetics and molecular biology.

I am a strong supporter of scientific communications and outreach to disseminate scientific developments and knowledge to a broader audience with the goal of increasing the general support of the scientific process.

I also direct Biomed News, a free biomedical research literature discovery platform that uses machine learning.




University of Bristol, United Kingdom, PhD, Biochemistry
University of Leeds, United Kingdom, BSc (Hons) Biochemistry with Industrial Placement

Academic appointments

Senior Lecturer, School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, 2022 - present
Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, Staffordshire University, 2018 - 2022
Assistant Professor, Life Sciences, New York Institute of Technology, 2013 - 2018

Postgraduate training

Associate Research Scientist, United States, Columbia University, 2010 - 2013
Post-doctoral research, United States, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 2005 - 2010
Post-doctoral research, United States, La Jolla Institute For Allergy & Immunology, 2003 - 2005

Journal article

Alsaffar MM, Hasan M, McStay GP, Sedky M. 2022. Digital DNA lifecycle security and privacy: An overview Briefings in Bioinformatics, 23 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Watson SA, McStay GP. 2020. Functions of cytochrome c oxidase assembly factors International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 21 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url

Barros MH, McStay GP. 2020. Modular biogenesis of mitochondrial respiratory complexes Mitochondrion, 50 :94-114 DOI Author Url

Franco LVR, Su CH, McStay GP, Yu GJ, Tzagoloff A. 2019. Cox2p of yeast cytochrome oxidase assembles as a stand-Alone subunit with the Cox1p and Cox3p modules Journal of Biological Chemistry, 293 :16899-16911 DOI Author Url

Elkholi R, Abraham-Enachescu I, Trotta AP, Rubio-Patiño C, Mohammed JN, Luna-Vargas MPA, Gelles JD, Kaminetsky JR, Serasinghe MN, Zou C, Ali S, McStay GP, Pfleger CM, Chipuk JE. 2019. MDM2 Integrates Cellular Respiration and Apoptotic Signaling through NDUFS1 and the Mitochondrial Network Molecular Cell, 74 :452-465.e7 DOI Author Url

Ali S, McStay GP. 2018. Regulation of mitochondrial dynamics by proteolytic processing and protein turnover Antioxidants, 7 DOI

McStay GP. 2017. Complex formation and turnover of mitochondrial transporters and ion channels Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes, 49 :101-111 DOI Author Url

Su CH, McStay GP, Tzagoloff A. 2014. Assembly of the rotor component of yeast mitochondrial ATP synthase is enhanced when Atp9p is supplied by Atp9p-Cox6p complexes Journal of Biological Chemistry, 289 :31605-31616 DOI Author Url

McStay GP, Green DR. 2014. Identification of active caspases using affinity-based probes Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, 2014 :856-860 DOI Author Url

McStay GP, Green DR. 2014. Verification of a putative caspase substrate Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, 2014 :861-864 DOI Author Url

McStay GP, Green DR. 2014. Measuring apoptosis: Caspase inhibitors and activity assays Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, 2014 :799-806 DOI Author Url

McStay GP, Green DR. 2014. Preparation of cytosolic extracts and activation of caspases by cytochrome c Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, 2014 :778-782 DOI Author Url

McStay GP, Green DR. 2014. Ssaying caspase activity in vitro Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, 2014 :774-777 DOI Author Url

McStay GP, Green DR. 2014. Detection of caspase activity using antibody-based techniques Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, 2014 :783-788 DOI Author Url

Su CH, McStay GP, Tzagoloff A. 2014. The Cox3p assembly module of yeast cytochrome oxidase Molecular Biology of the Cell, 25 :965-976 DOI Author Url

McStay GP, Su CH, Thomas SM, Xu JT, Tzagoloff A. 2013. Characterization of assembly intermediates containing subunit 1 of yeast cytochrome oxidase Journal of Biological Chemistry, 288 :26546-26556 DOI Author Url

McStay GP, Su CH, Tzagoloff A. 2013. Stabilization of Cox1p intermediates by the Cox14p-Coa3p complex FEBS Letters, 587 :943-949 DOI Author Url

McStay GP, Su CH, Tzagoloff A. 2013. Modular assembly of yeast cytochrome oxidase Molecular Biology of the Cell, 24 :440-452 DOI Author Url

Bender CE, Fitzgerald P, Tait SWG, Llambi F, McStay GP, Tupper DO, Pellettieri J, Alvarado AS, Salvesen GS, Green DR. 2012. Mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis is ancestral in metazoans Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109 :4904-4909 DOI Author Url

Chipuk JE, McStay GP, Bharti A, Kuwana T, Clarke CJ, Siskind LJ, Obeid LM, Green DR. 2012. Sphingolipid metabolism cooperates with BAK and BAX to promote the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis Cell, 148 :988-1000 DOI Author Url

Rak M, McStay GP, Fujikawa M, Yoshida M, Manfredi G, Tzagoloff A. 2011. Turnover of ATP synthase subunits in F1-depleted HeLa and yeast cells FEBS Letters, 585 :2582-2586 DOI Author Url

Bouchier-Hayes L, Oberst A, McStay GP, Connell S, Tait SWG, Dillon CP, Flanagan JM, Beere HM, Green DR. 2009. Characterization of Cytoplasmic Caspase-2 Activation by Induced Proximity Molecular Cell, 35 :830-840 DOI Author Url

McStay GP, Salvesen GS, Green DR. 2008. Overlapping cleavage motif selectivity of caspases: Implications for analysis of apoptotic pathways Cell Death and Differentiation, 15 :322-331 DOI Author Url

Tu S, McStay GP, Boucher LM, Mak T, Beere HM, Green DR. 2006. In situ trapping of activated initiator caspases reveals a role for caspase-2 in heat shock-induced apoptosis Nature Cell Biology, 8 :72-77 DOI Author Url

Spierings D, McStay G, Saleh M, Bender C, Chipuk J, Maurer U, Green DR. 2005. Connected to death: The (unexpurgated) mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis Science, 310 :66-67 DOI Author Url

McStay GP, Clarke SJ, Halestrap AP. 2002. Role of critical thiol groups on the matrix surface of the adenine nucleotide translocase in the mechanism of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore Biochemical Journal, 367 :541-548 DOI Author Url

Clarke SJ, McStay GP, Halestrap AP. 2002. Sanglifehrin A acts as a potent inhibitor of the mitochondrial permeability transition and reperfusion injury of the heart by binding to cyclophilin-D at a different site from cyclosporin A Journal of Biological Chemistry, 277 :34793-34799 DOI Author Url

Halestrap AP, McStay GP, Clarke SJ. 2002. The permeability transition pore complex: Another view Biochimie, 84 :153-166 DOI Author Url


McStay GP. 2018. Contributions of Plasma Protein Binding and Membrane Transporters to Drug-Induced Mitochondrial Toxicity Mitochondrial Dysfunction Caused by Drugs and Environmental Toxicants 1-2 :1-14 9781119329701 DOI

McStay GP. 2016. In vitro use of peptide based substrates and inhibitors of apoptotic caspases Methods in Molecular Biology 1419 :57-67 DOI Author Url

Hamed M, Zaher S, McStay GP. 2016. The role of executioner caspases in cancer formation and maintenance Caspases: Roles and Significance in Cell Death and Disease :39-68 9781536102475

McStay GP, Green DR. 2011. Mitochondria and cell death Apoptosis: Physiology and Pathology :37-43 9780521886567 DOI


Ali S, McStay GP. Regulation of Mitochondrial Dynamics by Proteolytic Processing and Protein Turnover MDPI AG DOI

Editorial boards:

Academia Biology. 2022

Al Mustansiriyah Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Editorial Board Member, https://ajps.uomustansiriyah.edu.iq/index.php/AJPS.

Frontiers in Oncology, Associate Editor for Molecular and Cellular Oncology Section, https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/oncology/sections/molecular-and-cellular-oncology.

Frontiers in Pharmacology, Review Editor for Ethnopharmacology section, https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/pharmacology/sections/ethnopharmacology.

Teaching qualification:

Advance HE fellowship. 2021

Other Professional Activity:

bioRxiv pre-print screener.

External committees:

Equality, Diversity, Inclusion panel, Biochemical Society, https://biochemistry.org/about-us/equality-diversity-and-inclusion/.

Grants committee, Biochemical Society, https://www.biochemistry.org/about-us/committees-and-governance/grants-committee/.