Senior Scientists and Postdoctoral Fellows

Haibin Xi, Ph.D.

Assistant Project Scientist

Postdoctoral Fellow/Project Scientist 2014-2021

Previous training: University of Miami and Fudan University
Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) are a superior source for obtaining skeletal muscle progenitor cells (SMPCs) for treating muscle disorders such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). My project is focusing on devloping an efficient and defined protocol to differentiate hPSCs to generate SMPCs following developmental myogenesis and understand the indentity of the in vitro-derived SMPCs. To achieve this, I am building transcriptional profiles of distinct myogenic populations during early human myogenesis to guide better differentiation of SMPCs from hPSCs. At the same time, I am also constructing myogenic marker reporter lines to enable high throughput screening for unbiased discovery of candidates to improve differentiation. The ultimate goal is to use hPSC-derived SMPCs in cell transplantation therapy to cure DMD.

Awards:  BSCRC Travel Award, CDMD Elevator Pitch Award Recipient

Current Position: Senior Scientist, Poseida Therapeutics, San Diego, CA

Jackelyn Alva, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow, 2007-2011

Current Position: Research Scientist in Dr. Brigitte Gomperts’s Lab, UCLA
UC Regent’s President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2008-2010
Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship (relinquished due to overlapping funding), 2008-2009
Tumor Immunology Postdoctoral Training Grant Fellowship (NIH T32-CA009120), 2007-2008
Research Scientist- University of California, Santa Barbara in Dr. Hyongsok (Tom) Soh’s Group at UCSB, 2010-2012

Michael Hicks, Ph.D.

Post doctoral Fellow

Postdoctoral Fellow: 2015-2020

Previous training: Arizona State University and University of Arizona
What allows transplanted stem cells to self-renew?  My goal is to determine when and where donor muscle cells take up position in the stem cell niche, to regulate muscle stem cell genes, and contribute to new muscle formation.  My current project studies how changes in the muscle environment, such as in muscular dystrophy, and levels of host muscle stem cells affect muscle cell engraftment.  We use skeletal muscle progenitor cells from hPSCs, and primary human satellite cells to benchmark and improve hPSC muscle cell functionality, to develop a more effective cell replacement therapy.

Awards: 2015-2016 CureDuchenne Postdoctoral Fellowship; 2016-2017 CDMD- NIH U54 Wellstone Fellowship, 2017-2019 Eli and Edythe Broad Postdoctoral Fellowship and Shaffer Foundation Fellow, 2018 MBI Boyer-Parvin Postdoctoral Research Award

Current Position:  Assistant Professor, University of California, Irvine (UCI)

Research Associates

Mandee Yang

Staff Research Associate

Bachelors of Science, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Graduate Students

Kholoud Saleh

Graduate Student

Previous training: Dr. Reza Ardehali Lab, UCLA and Qatar University, Bachelors of Science
My research focuses on the molecular and functional properties of muscle progenitor cells and muscle stem cells derived from human development and from human pluripotent stem cells. We are evaluating the functional engraftment potential via direct intra muscular versus systemic engraftment of CRISPR corrected cells in mouse models of DMD.

Awards:  Qatar Fellowship 2016-current

Sean Sherman

Graduate Student, 2008-2012

California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Predoctoral Training Grant (T1-00005), 2008-2011
Warsaw Fellowship – MIMG/UCLA, 2011-2012
MIMG Department Retreat Speaker, 2011

Postdoctoral Fellow/Scientist at Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute in Dr. Anne Bang’s Lab, La Jolla, San Diego

Current Position:   Fate Therapeutics, Senior Scientist, San Diego, CA

Kaushali Thakore-Shah

Graduate Student, 2007-2013

Philip J. Whitcome Graduate Student Fellowship, 2009
Paul D. Boyer MBI Teaching Award, 2009
MBI Research Poster Award Winner , 2009
Molecular Biology IDP Degree Progress Award, 2010
Graduate Student Award MBI Fowler Fellow, 2011

Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Sophie Deng’s lab at UCLA

Current Position:  Clinical Coordinator II, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Masters Students

Majib Jan

2013-2016 Masters Student

CIRM Bridges Funding, 2013-2014

Current Position:  Stem Cell Technologies Account Manager, New York City, NY

Tasneem Koleilat


CIRM Bridges Funding, 2011-2012
CSUN/CIRM Bridges Student Award for Best Research Talk, 2012

Doctor of Dental Medicine
University of Florida College of Dentistry – Gainesville, FL

Masters of Science, Department of Biology
California State University – Northridge, CA

Bachelor of Science in Cellular, Molecular, and Developmental Biology
California State University – Northridge, CA

Current Position: Dentist, MO

Richard Swan


Current Position: Research Scientist at PBS Biotech, CA
CIRM Bridges Funding, 2012-2013

Shahab Younesi

Staff Research Associate

Masters Student, Pyle lab CIRM Bridges Funding, 2014-2015

Bachelors of Science and Masters, Cal State Northridge, CIRM Bridges Fellow, SRA, UCLA

Current Position:  Broad Stem Cell Center GMP Team Member

Undergraduate Students

Becky Andersen


MIMG Honors Undergraduate Student, 2011-2012
MIMG PATH 2 Student, 2011-2012
Dean’s Prize Winner at UCLA for Undergraduate Science Poster Day, 2011

Current Position: UCSF Developmental Biology Graduate Student in Daniel A. Lim, MD, PhD (NSF graduate fellowship recipient)

Amelia Andrews

Undergraduate Student

Amelia is a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology with a minor in Biomedical Research. Throughout her time at UCLA she has been involved in hospital volunteering and clinical research programs and recently took a series of coding workshops through the Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biosciences for research credit.

Thomas Dial

Undergraduate:  2011-2013

Biomedical Research Minor Student, 2011-2013
MIMG Honors Undergraduate Student, 2012-2013
Biomedical Research Summer Scholarship, 2012

Current Position: Graduate Student at Harvard University in Jeannie Lee lab, Boston, MA

Erika Escobar


UCLA CARE Fellowship Award, 2009
UCLA CARE Scholarship Award, 2010
NIH Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Fellowship, 2010-2012
Chemistry-Biochemistry-Biology Interface Program for Summer Research Training Award, 2011

Wakana Fujiwara

Undergraduate:  2013-2016

M.D. from Georgetown Medical School

Current Position: Pediatric Resident at UCLA Health

Karen Gonzalez

Undergraduate student

2016 – Present Biomedical Research Minor Student
2016 MARC Student
2017 HHMI summer research student
2017 Outstanding Presentation (MIMG) at the 2017 ABRCMS meeting in Phoenix, AZ
Current Position: Graduate Student at Stanford, CA in Red Horse Lab

Victor Gutierrez-Garcia

Undergraduate Student

Victor in an undergraduate at California State Northridge (CSUN). Victor was awarded a prestigious spot on the CIRM CSUN Bridges to Stem Cell Research program. Victor’s project is centered around understanding how the ECM instructs stem cell fate.  He is currently pursuing a Masters at CSUN.

Julia Hiserodt


Amgen Scholar Program, 2016,  Rose Hill Scholar, 2016
Undergraduate Research Scholars Program

Current Position: M.D. Student at Harvard Medical School, Boston MA

Grace Lee


UCLA Undergraduate Peers Summer Fellowship, 2010
Biomedical Research Summer Scholarship, 2010
College of Letters and Science Junior Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, 2010-2011
Dean’s Prize Winner at UCLA for Undergraduate Science Poster Day, 2011

Masters in Biophysics and Physiology , Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Current Position: MD student at UCLA

Andrea Bañuelos Mota


CIRM Bridges Fellow, 2015, graduate CSUN

Current position: M.D. Student at USC Keck School of Medicine

Katrina Paras


Awards: i2URP Fellow, NIH-IMSD Scholar, CARE Science, Engineering, and Math Summer Program

Current Position: Pursuing a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Cell, and Molecular Biology in the lab of Dr. Lydia Finley at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, New York

Corey Switzler

Undergraduate Student

Corey is a 4th year MIMG undergraduate student majoring in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics.  He is also in the Biomedical Research Minor at UCLA.  Corey’s project is focused on improving our understanding of differences across disease muscle mouse models and developing strategies to improve stem cell extravasation in each model.  Corey has been awarded numerous awards including a scholarship from the Biomedical Research Minor and has been on the 2016-present Dean’s Honor List since joining UCLA. Corey is now a SRA at Salk in San Diego.

Michael Torres

Undergraduate Student

Michael is a 2nd year undergraduate student and a member of the UCLA Biomedical Research Minor program. He is majoring in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at UCLA. Since joining UCLA he has been a member of the UCLA Deans List. His project is helping to characterize the role of ECM in muscle progenitor cell and muscle stem cell fate.

Lily Gane

Staff Research Associate

Pitzer College Claremont, CA 2016 – 2020
Bachelor of Arts: Honors in Organismal Biology

NCAA DIII Varsity Athlete: Pomona-Pitzer Women’s Soccer (2016-2020)

Honors/Awards: Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) academic all-conference
awardee (2018-2020), W.M. Keck Fund for Summer Research recipient (2017)