Lab Members



Jay Sharma, MS, Lab Manager
jsharma@ucsd.edu

I have received two MS degrees in Biological Sciences from California State University Channel Islands and State University of New York at Buffalo. I have over 3.5 years of experience in the field of translational research and regenerative medicine. I have worked in the Cherqui lab for 2.5+ years as an MS candidate (CIRM research fellow) and Staff Research Associate. My MS thesis was mainly focused on investigating the mechanisms in hematopoietic stem cell-mediated therapy in the treatment of Cystinosis. In addition, I have been involved in conducting toxicology and pharmacology pre-clinical studies for autologous stem cell transplantation to cure Cystinosis, as per GLP compliance.

Laura Hernandez, BS, CCRC, CPT, Clinical Research Coordinator
ldhernandez@ucsd.edu

As the clinical research coordinator, Laura Hernandez has been on assignment at Cherqui Lab for over 2 years, assisting Dr. Cherqui on cystinosis studies including preparations for the autologous stem cell transplant protocol. She received her B.S. from University of California, Davis. She is a Certified Phlebotomy Technician and a Certified Clinical Research Coordinator.

Maulik Panchal, MS, MBA, Project Manager
mapanchal@ucsd.edu

Maulik Panchal is a highly driven regulatory affairs professional, with knowledge in biopharmaceutical and medical devices regulations. He's also experienced in Regulatory, CMC, Formulations and QA with sound project management skills.

Thi Le, BS, BA, Research Administrator
tal018@ucsd.edu

I got my Bachelor Degree in Pharmacological Chemistry and Economics from UC San Diego. After graduation, I worked as a coordinator for UCSD Medical Genetic fellowship program. I joined Cherqui Lab in March 2017 as a research administrator. As a member of the team, I am responsible for document archiving e-ctd formatting, budgeting and fund managing. I also take care of daily administrative tasks and act as point-of-contact for undergrad-intern applicants.

Leonardo Parra, Ph.D., Post-doc Fellow
l2parra@ucsd.edu

I received my B.S. and M.S. in Biochemistry in 2008 from the Catholic University of Valparaiso, Chile. After defending my M.S. thesis, I joined Dr. Gonzalo Torres’s Lab at the University of Pittsburgh as a visiting research scholar. I recently completed my Ph.D in Neuroscience and M.S. in clinical investigation, working with Dr. Erik Jorgensen at University of Utah. My research efforts in the Jorgensen Lab were focused on the molecular basis of synaptic transmission. In August 2018, I joined the Cherqui lab where I continue my scientific career focusing on stem cell gene therapy for mitochondrial neurodegenerative diseases.

Marya Bengali, BS, Clinical Research Coordinator
mbengali@ucsd.edu

I received my B.S. in biology from San Diego State University in 2017. After graduating, I worked at Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine in a reproductive medicine lab studying preeclampsia. I joined the Cherqui Lab in February 2018 as a Clinical Research Coordinator for the Confocal Microscopy project studying the intra-dermal images of patients with Cystinosis

Céline J. Rocca, Ph.D., Assistant Project Scientist
crocca@ucsd.edu

I got my PhD in Physiology and Physiopathologies from the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France in 2009. I have started to work on stem cell and gene therapy during my first postdoc in London for 2 years. I joined Dr. Cherqui lab in 2011 where I have been working on 3 main projects: (1) Development of a kidney-targeted gene delivery using Adeno-Associated Virus (AAV) that led to a first manuscript published in Gene Therapy in 2014, (2) Investigate the potential use of Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation to cure the eye pathology in Cystinosis (IOVS, 2015) and, (3) Use of Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation to treat the mitochondrial disorder Friedreich Ataxia.

Spencer Goodman, BS, Graduate Student Researcher
spgoodma@ucsd.edu

I received my B.S. from Boston University in Biology with a focus on Molecular Biology and Genetics. After graduation, I worked at the National Institutes of Health for several years to continue my education at the bench. I have always been fascinated with gene therapy and joined the Cherqui lab to get a chance to work in this exciting field. I work on deciphering the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the basic biology of our stem cell therapy. Specifically, I am investigating the nature of the formation of tunneling nanotubes, the delivery highways for our gene therapy products.