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Lab Members


Jay Sharma, MS, Lab Manager

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.

Anne Sawyers
, BS, CCRP, Clinical Research Coordinator



As the newest clinical research coordinator in the Cherqui Lab, she assists Dr. Cherqui on Stem Cell and Genetics studies.  Anne has been working as a Clinical Research Coordinator for the last 15 years at UC Irvine and UCSD and comes with a variety of experience in both industry and investigator initiated Clinical Trials. 
Maulik Panchal, M.S., MBA, Project Manager

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

Jose CanoBS, MS, Staff Research Associate II

I received my B.S in Pharmacological Chemistry from Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla, Mexico in 2016. I also obtained a California phlebotomist certification in 2018, and I am currently doing my M.S in biotechnology at Cal State San Marcos. I joined the Cherqui lab in February 2018 as a Staff Research Associate. Here, I have performed Toxicological and pharmacological GLP-like studies as per FDA compliance for Cystinosis and Danon genetic disorders, and I am one of the phlebotomists of the lab.

Joseph Rainaldi, B.S., M.S., Staff Research Associate II

Joseph received his BS and MS in Biomedical Engineering with a Specialization in Regenerative Medicine and minor in Biotechnology from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2020. While at Cal Poly, he worked to increase transgene packaging efficiency into yeast HIV virus like particles until he joined the Cherqui Lab in September 2019 as a CIRM Masters Intern. Here, Joseph is engaged in translating a CRISPR/Cas9 mediated hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) therapy for the treatment of Friedreich’s ataxia from bench to bedside and developing a targeted cell therapy for the ocular pathology of cystinosis. Additionally, he is studying ways to overcome current shortcomings experienced when using the CRISPR system to edit HSCs. He is driven by the potential genetic therapeutics have to treat disease efficiently and effectively.

Priyanka Mishra, Ph.D.,Post-doc Fellow

Priyanka received her PhD from Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS) Lucknow-India in December 2017, where her research work focused on neuroinflammatory and neuroinfectious diseases. After completing my PhD, she joined Dr Shauna Yuan lab as a postdoc Fellow in Department of Neuroscience at University of California, San Diego in January 2018. In Shauna’s lab she tried to explore the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases specially focused on Tauopathies by using human iPSCs based model system. She always interested to work in the field of stem cells biology and regenerative medicine, So she joined Dr Cherqui lab as a post doc fellow in July 2019. She is continuing her research focusing on hematopoietic stem cells and gene therapy approach to treat neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorder.

Imama Ahmed, SRA 1

Imama received her BS in Physiology & Neuroscience from UC San Diego in June 2020. Previously she has worked at the Department of Surgery and at the Tuszynski lab at UCSD. At the Tuszynski lab she worked on spinal cord injury research which focused on repairing spinal cord injury through stem cell treatment. She joined the Cherqui Lab in March 2021 and will be working as both lab and clinical research support. She will be contributing to the development and implementation of a clinical trial in the area of confocal microscopy for subjects with cystinosis. 



Lei Cao, Research Administrator


Lei Cao joined Dr. Cherqui Lab in November 2019.  Her primary responsibilities include managing clinical trials billings and resolving financial discrepancies.  She also handles daily business administrative tasks and accounting matters.  Lei worked at the University of Maryland as a Faculty Research Assistant and also a Business Coordinator between 2003-2012.  Lei received a B.S in Information Sciences and M.S. in Technology Management from University of Maryland, College Park.

Jacqueline Nguyen, 
Undergrad Volunteer


​Jacqueline is currently a third year, undergraduate student at UC San Diego. She is majoring in Human Health Psychology with a minor in General Biology. She joined the Cherqui lab in July of 2020, and she's currently an undergraduate volunteer working with Priyanka in her research around hematopoietic stem cells and gene therapy approach to treat neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Manoela Abreia
, Undergrad Volunteer


​Manoela is currently a third year undergraduate student at San Diego State University pursuing her BS in Microbiology and minor in Chemistry. She joined the Cherqui lab in August 2020.