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Our Team


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 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. 
Imama Ahmed BS, Assistant Clinical Research Coordinator

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. 



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

Thi Le MBA, Financial Analyst

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 member of the team, I am responsible for managing documents, ensuring records are properly stored and easily accessible.
I also take care of daily administrative tasks and act as point-of-contact for undergrad-intern applicants.

Veenita Khare Ph.D., Research Associate 3

Veenita received her PhD from CSIR- Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (CSIR-IICB) (Kolkata) India in June 2021, where she studied the involvement of an RNA helicase p68 (DDX5) in oncogenic signaling pathways. She joined Dr. Shannon Lauberth's lab, UCSD in January 2021. In Dr. Lauberth's lab, she tried to decipher the role of enhancer RNAs (eRNAs) in cancer. After receiving her PhD, she joined Dr Cherqui's lab in June 2021 to pursue her keen interest in the field of hematopoietic stem cells and translational research. Her project is focused on studying the molecular mechanism behind the link between cystinosis and renal disorder. Novel findings from this study may open new therapeutic avenues in cystinosis treatment.

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.

Rafael Badell Ph.D.,Post-doc Fellow

Rafael received his MRes and PhD from Cardiff University in the UK where he investigated the cellular pathology of neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington and lysosomal storage diseases with a specific focus on different forms of Batten disease and Niemann Pick disease for the purposes of drug screening. During his PhD he also carried out multiple drug screening projects to identify potential small molecule therapies for lysosomal storage diseases. During his MRes he was awarded a letter of commendation as well as the Best Student Award for the best performance overall in his cohort. His PhD was funded by the Batten Disease Family Association and the Life Science Research Network Wales. Rafael strives to increase our understanding of lysosomal storage disease pathogenesis and find ways to treat these. In June 2021 Rafael joined the Cherqui lab as a Postdoc to continue developing therapeutic approaches for lysosomal storage diseases with a focus on stem cell transplantation and gene therapy using mouse models.

Anusha Sivakumar Ph.D.,Post-doc Fellow

Dr.Anusha Sivakumar's doctoral work focused on understanding the role of mitochondrial structure-function relationship in the development and progression of cardiac diseases, with particular focus on oxidative stress induced injuries. She was a Senior Scientist at ThermoFisher Scientific Inc., in Research & Development where she worked on commercial antibody development & validation and exosome sample preparation programs. Currently, her research focuses on the safety and efficacy profile of gene-edited HSPC transplation for Friedreich's Ataxia.

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.

Kalvin Duong Undergrad Volunteer

I am a fourth year undergraduate student at UC San Diego. My major is general biology with a minor in psychology. I began volunteering in the Cherqui lab in September 2021. I am currently working under Rafael where we want to treat the disease, MPSIIIC, through hemopatoietic stem cell transplantation and gene therapy.