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College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific

Research Faculty

Basic Medical Sciences Faculty


Portrait of Nissar A. Darmani Nissar A. Darmani, PhD
Associate Dean for Basic Sciences and Research Chair, Basic Medical Sciences
COMP-Pomona
ndarmani@westernu.edu
Office#: (909) 469-5654 – Lab#: (909) 469-5218
Research Interests:

  • Developmental effects of drugs of abuse on the newborn.
  • Serotonergic mechanisms of cocaine’s actions.
  • Mode of action of antidepressant drugs.
  • Adaptive mechanisms of serotonergic 5-HT2 receptor functions.
  • The role of delta-9 -THC and synthetic cannabinoids on chemotherapy- and radiotherapy-induced vomiting. His laboratory had the first opportunity to demonstrate the mechanisms of antiemetic actions of marijuana.
  • Role of 5-HT3-, Dopamine D2/3-, Lekotriene CysLT1- and NK1- receptors in emesis and application of their antagonists as antiemetics.
  • Another of his research interests involves the role of osteopathic manipulative medicine on the blood levels of endogenous cannabinoid-like compounds and other pain markers in patients with back pain. He had been successful in obtaining several million dollars of research grants from numerous funding agencies including the Pharmaceutical industry, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Cancer, the Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency.
R Kandpal Raj P. Kandpal, PhD
Assistant Chair of BMS Associate Professor of Biochemistry
COMP-Pomona
rkandpal@westernu.edu
Office#: (909) 706-3520 – Lab#: (909) 706-3533
Research Interests: We have been using cell biological, molecular biological and genetic approaches to understand mechanisms underlying disease processes and indentifying targets for therapeutic interventions. We have been applying these approaches toward investigating breast, prostate and ovarian cancer, human deafness, and diabetic retinopathy.
Xiaoning Bi Xiaoning Bi, MD, PhD
Professor of Physiology
COMP-Pomona
xbi@westernu.edu
Office#: (909) 469-5487 – Lab#: (909) 469-5471
Research Interests: Research in my laboratory seeks to understand how neurons develop, mature, and function properly, and how they die when challenged by natural aging process, intrinsic genetic defects, or various insults. We hope that, by understanding the basic molecular and cellular mechanisms that govern these processes, we can develop better preventive and therapeutic strategies for central nervous system disorders in children as well as in elders. Current Research Projects: 1. Signaling pathways in learning and memory and other brain functions. Signal transmission at junctions between neurons, the synapses, is regulated by multiple signaling pathways. One of my lab projects for the last few years has focused on the mTOR (mechanistic/mammalian target of rapamycin) signaling pathway. The mTOR network consists of two complexes mTORC1 and mTORC2 and integrates signals from nutrients, energy levels, growth factors, and stress status. We have recently found that mTORC1 activity is increased while mTORC2 activity is decreased in a mouse model of Angelman syndrome (AS), a disease caused by maternal UBE3A deficiency. Furthermore, the imbalanced mTORC1 and mTORC2 activity is causally related to learning and memory impairment and motor dysfunction in AS mice. These results suggest that mTOR signaling is regulated by UBE3A. Since abnormal mTOR signaling has been reported in other neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and autism spectrum disorders, our findings may have broad implications. 2. Regulation of potassium channels by UBE3A Small conductance calcium-activated potassium channels (SK1-3) are widely distributed throughout the brain and other organs. SK2 channels play important roles in learning and memory and in abnormal brain functions, such as seizures. We have demonstrated that synaptic SK2 levels are regulated by UBE3A and the lack of this regulation resulting from UBE3A deletion contributes to learning impairment in Angelman syndrome mice. Since SK2 channels are widely expressed in mammalian brain, these findings have significant implications for a vast array of neurologic/neuropsychiatric disorders.
Mihai Covasa Mihai Covasa, PhD
Associate Professor of Physiology
COMP-Pomona
mcovasa@westernu.edu
Office#: (909) 469-8215 – Lab#: (909) 469-8291
Research Interests: Obesity and diabetes are major causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide Using a combination of molecular, neuroanatomical, behavioral, biochemical and physiological approaches we are investigating satiation signals that control eating and regulation of body weight. Consequently, we are interested in the reduction of sensitivity to satiation signals in response to dietary adaptation (particularly dietary fat) and subsequent development of hyperphagia and obesity. We have developed several research programs in the following areas: 1) the interaction between metabolic events, orosensory factors, and central functions relevant to the initiation and termination of eating and the development of long term feeding patterns; 2) the neural regulation of eating during obesity and development of type-2 diabetes; 3) the central and peripheral taste and motivational processes in obesity and diabetes; 4) the effects of chronic exposure to dietary fats on neural adaptation, subsequent overconsumption and weight gain; 5) the role of gut microbiota in intestinal chemosensation. The control of eating and regulation of body weight require integration of sensory neural processes originating in the oral cavity and viscera and those systems that assign actual hedonic value to a meal. In obesity, this intricate relationship is perturbed. Using rodent models of obesity and diabetes, my laboratory demonstrated that, similar to obese humans, obese rats have an increased avidity for palatable foods (sucrose and oils) that progresses during prediabetes and diabetes. We also showed, that animal prone to become obese exhibit a host of postoral behavioral and neural deficits and fail to integrate postabsorptive and orosensory effects of palatable tastants.
Sebastien Fuchs Sebastien Fuchs, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pharmacology
COMP-Pomona
sfuchs@westernu.edu
Office#: (909) 469-5232
Research Interests: I am studying the biochemistry and physiology of Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) in vivo in genetically modified animals. Beside blood pressure, ACE is involved in many other function including peptide presentation (immunology), extracellular matrix control (end-organ damages), male fertility, Alzheimer’s disease. My current areas of research are organ fibrosis (inflammation and extracellular matrix processing) and Alzheimer’s disease. I have acquired numerous scientific/technical skills (molecular biology: DNA manipulation, mutation, plasmid construction and analysis, animal genetic models, biochemistry, cellular biology, in vivo experimentation, animal physiology).
M Issar Manish Issar, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pharmacology
COMP-Pomona
missar@westernu.edu
Office#: (909) 706-3752
Research Interests: Interested in nano-engineering technology to deliver therapeutic agents to the eye and CNS to address neurodegenerative and infectious diseases. Develop a preclinical pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic research program to study the pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic outcomes of therapeutic agents utilizing the nano-drug delivery technology. Development and validation of bioanalytical assays to quantify drug concentrations in biological fluids for drug metabolism studies. Future interest in developing target drug delivery systems using nano-technology.
Glen Kisby, PhD Glen Kisby, PhD
Associate Professor of Pharmacology
COMP-Northwest
gkisby@westernu.edu
Office#: (541) 259-0217
Member – Research Committee
Research Interests: My laboratory is investigating the underlying molecular mechanisms of neurodevelopmental disorders and chronic neurodegenerative disease. A central hypothesis under study is that early life exposure to environmental chemicals (e.g., cigarette smoke, pesticides, air pollutants, metals) induces long-term brain injury. Methylazoxymethanol (MAM), a developmental neurotoxin and an etiological candidate for a neurodegenerative disorder found in the western Pacific with features of ALS, Parkinson disease and Alzheimer disease is being used to examine the relationship between early life exposure to an environmental chemical and long-term brain injury. Adult-derived human neural stem cells (brain in a dish) are currently being used to identify the long-term effects of environmental chemicals on the developing and mature human brain.
John Mata, PhD John Mata, PhD
Associate Professor of Pharmacology
COMP-Northwest
jmata@westernu.edu
Office#: (541) 259-0231
Member – Research Committee
Research Interests: The primary focus of my laboratory is investigating the utility of protein and nucleic acid analog polymers as medical interventions for disease. These research projects can be categorized into three main themes: The design and testing of functionalized protein polymers to deliver contrast agents or peptide biotopes to tissues. This nanotechnology has been directed toward detecting and treating tumors and stimulating spinal cord regeneration following compression injury thus far; We have designed and conduct studies focused on preclinical pharmacology of nucleotide polymers for the treatment of disease. This work has included drug design projects to treat disease that include drug resistant tuberculosis, ebola and other viruses; Recent advances in fluorescence spectroscopy have led us to study RNA binding polymers, specifically dye modified phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers, as diagnostic tools to measure low levels of RNA. We currently are working on a sensitive method for detection of the Ebola virus in biological fluids. Other research interests include the use of natural products to reduce risk of disease or improve health. This work has primarily focused on the use of chlorophyll derivatives to reduce the bioavailability and exposure from carcinogens including PAHs and aflatoxin B1. I also have a strong interest in cultural anthropology and global health and have been actively supporting research projects for students in Lebanon, OR, Lobitos, Peru and Bhutan.
R Pechnick Robert N. Pechnick, PhD
Professor of Pharmacology
COMP-Pomona
rpechnick@westernu.edu
Office#: (909) 469-8669
Research Interests: The research in my laboratory has been focused on three aspects of neuropsychopharmacology: using animal models to understand the causes of and to develop new potential treatments for various forms of mental illness; utilizing both in vivo and in vitro approaches to study the neuropharmacology of drugs of abuse; and defining the role of adult hippocampal neurogenesis in health and disease states. Primary goals include: characterizing the role of developmental insults (prenatal, neonatal and adolescence) in producing neuropsychiatric disorders; defining the involvement of cytokines and stress in adult hippocampal neurogenesis and depression; understanding the role of neurogenesis in post-chemotherapy-induced cognitive function, and determining the neurochemical mechanisms underlying the effects and the pathophysiological and neurochemical consequences of the repeated administration of drugs of abuse. Experimental approaches involve studying the effects of the systemic and central administration of selective agonists, antagonists, using transgenic animal models, utilizing viral-mediated gene delivery and characterizing functional responses as well as changes in receptor subunit gene expression after acute and chronic drug administration.
M Peterfy Miklos Peterfy, PhD
Professor of Biochemistry
COMP-Pomona
mpeterfy@westernu.edu
Office#: (909) 706-3949
Research Interests: Dr. Peterfy’s research interest is the genetic and molecular basis of common metabolic diseases including obesity, diabetes and dyslipidemia. His goal is to identify novel genes and mechanisms responsible for metabolic abnormalities and provide the foundation for the development of novel therapeutic approaches.
Beatrice Saviola Beatrice Saviola, PhD
Associate Professor of Microbiology
COMP-Pomona
bsaviola@westernu.edu
Office#: (909) 469-5373 – Lab#: 469-5436
Research Interests: General focus of Dr. Saviola’s laboratory: Regulation of a Virulence-Associated Acid Response to Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. The bacterium that causes tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, can sense environmental stresses and resist them in order to survive in the body. Creating an acidic environment is one way the body controls bacterial infection. Bacteria can respond to this defense by altering the activity of many of their genes. I have identified in M. tuberculosis a gene, lipF, that is turned on in response to acid. I am studying the basis of this acid response, and anticipate it will provide the groundwork for the eventual identification of a general mechanism by which Mycobacterium tuberculosis can resist acidic stress. To this end I have defined a minimal DNA region upstream of the lipF gene which is transcriptionally upregulated by acidic stress. In addition, I am investigating a nearby gene, Rv3488, as its gene product binds to the lipF promoter region indicating that it may serve as a transcriptional regulator of acidic stress. Information about how virulent M. tuberculosis can respond to environmental stresses that commonly occur within the host could be used to develop therapies that target these mechanisms and make Mycobacterium tuberculosis more sensitive to the immune system’s host defenses.
Thomas Squire, PhD Thomas Squier, PhD
Professor of Biochemistry
COMP-Northwest
tsquier@westernu.edu
Office#: (541) 259-0230
Member – Research Committee
Research Interests: Current Funding: Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Squier (PI) 5/15/11 to 9/14/16 Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Squier (Co-Investigator) 2/2/12 to 2/1/16
Michelle Steinauer Michelle Steinauer, PhD
Assistant Professor of Microbiology
COMP-Northwest
msteinauer@westernu.edu
Member – Research Committee
Research Interests: My research is focused on the interface between the ecology, evolution, genetics, and epidemiology of parasitic organisms. I am particularly interested in five broad research topics: 1. Transmission dynamics of parasitic organisms including how geography and life history characteristics influence transmission and the distribution of populations. 2. The evolutionary processes of pathogens that affect disease dynamics including hybridization and gene introgression. 3. The mechanisms by which parasites invade hosts and by which hosts resist or tolerate pathogens. 4. Determining how pathogen communities interact to produce disease. 5. Improving control of parasitic infections. I use a combination of field and lab based research and a variety of molecular and analytical techniques to address these topics.
Hendrik Szurmant Hendrik Szurmant, PhD
Associate Professor of Microbiology
COMP-Pomona
hszurmant@westernu.edu
Office#: (909) 706-3938 – Lab#: (909) 469-8493
Research Interests:

Pathogenic bacteria are some of the most formidable threats to human health. These threats appeared all but eliminated, thanks due to the discovery of powerful antibiotics. The constant exposure of bacteria to these antibiotics has selected for potent multi-drug resistant bacteria, so called superbugs, that are making a strong comeback. To cope with this renewed threat a dedicated effort by the scientific community is needed to identify new drug targets and to generate inhibitors of such targets. The Szurmant laboratory contributes to this endeavor by studying essential aspects of bacterial physiology and signal transduction in model bacteria and selected pathogens. A unique feature of the lab is the integration of information stemming from numerous disciplines, including structural biology, genetics, molecular bioinformatics and biophysics.

Vishwanath Venketaraman Vishwanath Venketaraman, PhD
Associate Professor of Microbiology/Immunology
COMP-Pomona
vvenketaraman@westernu.edu
Office#: (909) 706-3736 – Lab#: (909) 469-6621
Chair – Research Committee
Research Interests:

My laboratory studies the pathophysiology of tuberculosis in the context of HIV co-infection and type II diabetes. We are pioneers in reporting that glutathione (GSH) has both antimycobacterial effects and immune enhancing effects and is necessary for the control of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection. We also reported that the levels of GSH were significantly compromised in macrophages, natural killer (NK) cells and T cells derived from individuals with HIV infection. Decreased levels of GSH in individuals with HIV infection was accompanied by diminished control of intracellular Mtb infection. We then demonstrated that the levels of enzymes that are responsible for the synthesis of GSH such as GSH synthase (GSS), g-glutamyl cysteinyl ligase (GCLC), and GSH reductase (GSR) were significantly reduced in individuals with HIV infection and this reduction correlated with decreased levels of intracellular GSH. We recently conducted a clinical trial in HIV positive individuals to test the efficacy of liposomal glutathione (L-GSH) in restoring the levels of GSH and improving the functions of immune cells. Findings from this study indicate a link between lower levels of GSH and dysregulation in the production of TH1 and TH2 associated cytokines. Furthermore, supplementing individuals with HIV infection for 13 weeks with L-GSH resulted in a significant increase in the levels of TH1 cytokines (IL-1ß, IL-12, IFN-y and TNF-a) along with a substantial decrease in the levels of free radicals and immunosuppressive cytokines (IL-10 and TGF-ß), relative to those in a placebo-controlled cohort. Our studies established a correlation between low levels of GSH and increased susceptibility to Mtb infection via TH2-directed response, which may be relieved with L-GSH supplementation enhancing the TH1 response. I look forward to continuing this important research work (preclinical and clinical studies) and develop immunotherapeutic agents that can be used as adjunct to prevent the development of active tuberculosis in individuals with HIV infection and in people with type II diabetes.

Edward Wagner Edward Wagner, PhD
Professor of Physiology
COMP-Pomona
ewagner@westernu.edu
Office/Lab#: (909) 469-5239
Member – Research Committee
Research Interests: My research interests focus on how cannabinoids regulate the hypothalamic feeding circuitry to affect changes in feeding behavior and energy homeostasis in male and female subjects, and how gonadal steroids modulate this interaction. I use state-of-the-art instrumentation to assess cannabinoid-induced changes in daily and hourly food intake, as well as meal size, frequency and duration, core body temperature and weight gain/loss, and how these changes correlate with alterations in neurotransmitter release and cell excitability at anorexigenic proopiomelanocortin (POMC) synapses within the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus. I recently have discovered that males are much more sensitive to the appetite-modulating properties of CB1 receptor agonists and antagonists than females, which correlates with marked sex differences in the pre- and post synaptic actions of cannabinoids at POMC synapses. These findings indicate that gender should be taken into account when considering the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of HIV/AIDS- or cancer-related cachexia, or obesity.
Li Zhong Li Zhong, PhD
Associate Professor of Physiology
COMP-Pomona
lzhong@westernu.edu
Office#: (909) 469-8220 – Lab#: (909) 469-8236
Research Interests: Dr. Zhong’s research interests focus on early cancer detection using autoantibody profiles as biomarkers. They have developed novel screening technology for early detection of lung cancer using T7 phage display cDNA libraries and differential biopanning to isolate epitopes reacting with antibodies present specifically in the sera of patients with lung cancer. Using five combined biomarkers, they have achieved both sensitivity and specificity of 91.3 percent for stage I non-small cell lung cancer detection (Zhong, 2005), and sensitivity of 82.6 percent and specificity of 87.5 percent for detection of occult (one to five years prior to diagnosis) non-small cell lung cancer (Zhong, 2006). The results were much more sensitive and specific than the traditional biomarkers for lung cancer.

Research Professors and Post-Doctoral Fellows

Tuerxun Ailikemu, PhD Tuerxun Ailikemu, PhD
Research Scientist
COMP-Pomona
tailikemu@westernu.edu
Lab Phone#: (909) 706-3465
Research Interests:Understanding and finding possible cures for cognitive impairments have been the focus of my research. Current research is focusing on understanding the effects of androgen deficiency on cognitive function and hippocampal neurogenesis in mice.
Candy Bedoya, PhD Candy Bedoya, PhD
Post-Doctoral Fellow
COMP-Pomona
cbedoya@westernu.edu
Lab Phone#: (909) 469-8222
Research Interests:The study of protein-protein interactions and their influence on blood lipid homeostasis. Her current focus is the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) chaperone Lipase maturation factor 1 (LMF1). LMF1 is responsible for the activation of lipoprotein lipase, the protein responsible for the removal of triglyceride particles (TG) from the circulation, and LMF1 has been shown to interact with other ER resident proteins. She is currently studying what effects these interactions have on TG levels in the circulation and whether LMF1 is involved in other cellular processes.
Nicole Ehrhardt, PhD Nicole Ehrhardt, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
COMP-Pomona
nehrhardt@westernu.edu
Lab Phone#: (909) 469-8222
Research Interests:The characterization of newly discovered genes involved in plasma lipid homeostasis, glucose homeostasis and energy balance. Her ambition to achieve mechanistic insight into the development of resulting diseases, such as dyslipidemia, diabetes and obesity, will contribute to the development of new therapeutic approaches.
Candace Johnson, PhD Candace Johnson, PhD
Post-Doctoral Fellow
COMP-Pomona
cjohnson@westernu.edu
Lab Phone#: (909) 706-3533
Research Interests:EPH Receptors.
Erythropoietin-producing hepatocellular carcinoma cell (EPH) receptor family with 14 distinct receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) constitutes an important class of cell surface proteins. Interestingly, there are a variety of alternate transcripts of these receptors that reside in the cytoplasm. Some shorter isoforms of EPH receptors found in the cytoplasm also arise by proteolytic cleavage, and these cleavage products, as well as the alternatively spliced isoforms, are implicated in vary. We are investigating these receptors in breast cell lines since breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality in women worldwide. In the United States, breast cancer accounts for 29% of new cancer cases and 14% of deaths among women.
Jiandong Sun Jiandong Sun, PhD
Post-Doctoral Fellow
COMP-Pomona
sunJ@westernu.edu
Lab Phone#: (909) 469-5471
Research Interests:We have been using biochemical, molecular and imaging approaches to understand mechanisms underlying synaptic plasticity. We have been applying these approaches toward investigating Angelman syndrome and autism.
Yijia Xiong Yijia Xiong, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
COMP-Northwest
yxiong@westernu.edu
Research Interests: My research interest focus in the development and application of advanced fluorescence technology, including fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, time-resolved frequency domain fluorescence anisotropy measurement, single molecule imaging etc., to study protein structure dynamic and protein-protein or protein-DNA interactions. We have developed a few bi-Arsenic fluorescent probes for specific labeling of target protein as well. Currently we have two research projects which focus on the stabilization of protein structures and activities in confined materials, e.g. protein based smart hydrogel or diatom based biosilica. We have entrapped proteins in a protein based smart hydrogel and shown improved stability in chaotic reagents. We can also express protein in diatom to incorporate into biosilica. When specific probes, e.g. single chain antibody, were entrapped, the material can also be used for highly sensitive fluorescence detection of pathogen or threat agents.
Weixia Zhong, PhD Weixia Zhong, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
COMP-Pomona
wzhong@westernu.edu
Lab Phone#: (909) 469-5218
Research Interests:Combining behavior, immunohistochemistry and biochemistry, I focus on the molecular mechanisms in the brain underlying emesis, and identification of antiemetics with broad-spectrum efficacy. My research aims to better understand the mechanisms of vomiting behavior and provide directions for management in clinically occurred vomiting, especially chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
Christopher Zschiedrich, PhD Christopher Zschiedrich, PhD
Post-Doctoral Fellow
COMP-Pomona
czschiedrich@westernu.edu
Lab Phone#: (909) 469-8493
Research Interests:My research is focused on the secret language of proteins. Proteins often undergo specific protein-protein interactions to exert their full potential. The availability of increasing sequence databases led to a bioinformatics approach to answer the question: “Who interacts with whom?” The tool Direct Coupling Analysis (DCA) can extract residue contacts between proteins utilizing only protein-family sequence data. The information gained from DCA can be used to build highly accurate structural models of protein complexes. However, how evolutionary processes drive protein-protein interaction specificity and strength remains a mystery; its elucidation is one of the most formidable tasks in systems biology today. To progress in our understanding of the evolution of protein-protein interaction and identify whether a quantitative interaction code can be extracted from the vast protein sequence databases, we apply a combined state of the art experimental and in silico approach. The information obtained about evolutionary processes of protein-protein interactions can be applied in biotechnology and medicine to investigation mutations linked to genetic diseases and drug resistance.

Lab Management

Jilleen Pfaff Jilleen Pfaff, BS, AHT
Coordinator of Animal Resources and Lab Management
COMP-Northwest
jpfaff@westernu.edu
Lab Phone#: (541) 259-0255
Research Interests:My research pursuits have involved breeding and maintaining transgenic mouse colonies. I enjoy working in partnership with students on their projects and with faculty researchers. My goal at COMP-NW is to develop an AAALAC accredited working vivarium with research involving mice, rats and hamsters. I am a member of AALAS (American Association of Laboratory Animal Science) and strongly support safety in the laboratory and I take pleasure in working with students to help them develop their skills as researchers.
Tammie J. McQuistan Tammie J. McQuistan, BS
Research Laboratory Coordinator
COMP-Northwest
tmcquistan@westernu.edu
Lab Phone#: (541) 259-0259
Research Interests:My current research involves determining the activity of an enzyme while tethered in a hydrogel and using fluoroscopy to measure the conformational change of the enzyme while tethered. Previous research at UCSD utilized electron and fluorescent microscopy for protein localization to discover mechanisms of intracellular signaling and traffic. At OSU, we studied how phytochemicals in plants reduce cancer incidence and tumor multiplicity in mouse, rat and trout models. Building on that foundation, pharmacokinetic studies in humans were conducted with micro-doses of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Managing a laboratory safely has been and will be one of my foremost priorities here at Western University of Health Sciences for the furtherance of faculty, staff and student’s success and wellbeing.

Clinical Sciences Faculty

Marcel Fraix Marcel Fraix, DO
Chair, Clinical Sciences Department Chair, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
COMP-Pomona
mfraix@westernu.edu
Member – Research Committee
Research Interests:

  • Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) in individuals with vertigo: In the study “Effectiveness of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) and Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) alone or in Combination on Balance and Visual Function in Patients with Vertigo and Somatic Dysfunction,” we focused on examining the efficacy of OMT in individuals with somatic dysfunction who suffered from dizziness and vertigo
  • Lifestyle Modification as a means of preventing disease and health promotion: I am interested in examining the effects of nutrition and exercise as a means by which to prevent chronic disease and improve the health of patients
Jin Guo Jin Guo, MD
Assistant Professor of Pathology
COMP-Pomona
jguo@westernu.edu
Research Interests:

  • Alternative methods of collection for study of exfoliated cells.
  • Cytopathologic methods in detection and differential diagnosis of disease by exfoliated cells.
  • Immunohistochemical patterns in the differential diagnosis of benign versus malignant effusions.
  • Molecular and immunohistochemical patterns of hematopoietic and other neoplasms.
Vincent Mesa Vincent Mesa, DO
Assistant Professor of Pathology
COMP-Northwest
vmesa@westernu.edu
Research Interests:

  • Study of precursor langerhans cell histiocytosis.
  • Laboratory methods in detection and differential diagnosis of disease.
  • Histomorphologic spectrum of pathologic changes associated with surgically excised lesions.
Robert Orlando Robert Orlando, MD
Professor of Pathology
COMP-Northwest
rorlando@westernu.edu
Research Interests:

  • Spectrum of pathologic alterations associated with intrauterine fetal demise.
  • Spectrum of gross and microscopic changes of placentas from preterm and term pregnancies.
  • Study of therapeutic drugs for FDA approval in clinical trials.
  • Molecular signatures of mucositis and their association with cellular morphologic alterations
  • Molecular and immunohistochemical features of neoplasms with unusual clinical presentation.
  • Molecular and morphologic alterations associated with carcinogenesis and cancer prevention.
  • Cellular morphologic alterations of tissues in response to therapeutic agents.
Cyrus Parsa Cyrus Parsa, DO
Chair & Professor of Pathology
COMP-Pomona
cparsa@westernu.edu
Research Interests:

  • Molecular signatures of mucositis and their association with cellular morphologic alterations
  • Immunohistochemical patterns of evolving precancerous and malignant lesions of breast
  • Molecular and immunohistochemical features of neoplasms with unusual clinical presentation.
  • Molecular and morphologic alterations associated with carcinogenesis and cancer prevention.
  • Cellular morphologic alterations of tissues in response to therapeutic agents.
Yadi Frenandez-Sweeny Yadi Frenandez-Sweeny, PsyD, MS
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
COMP-Pomona
yfernandez-sweeny@westernu.edu
Research Interests: Effects of food-supplements in alleviating morbidity in individuals with HIV infection
Lisa Warren Lisa Warren, DO
Chair & Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
COMP-Pomona
lwarren@westernu.edu
Research Interests: “Converting Waiting Time to Teaching Time”

Family Medicine Faculty

Joachim Brown Joachim Brown, DO
Assistant Professor of Family Medicine
COMP-Pomona
jobrown@westernu.edu
Research Interests: Academic Medicine
Alan Cundari Alan Cundari, DO
Professor of Family Medicine
COMP-Pomona
acundari@westernu.edu
Research Interests: Group home care improvement
Robyn Dreibelbis Robyn Dreibelbis, DO
Assistant Professor of Family Medicine
COMP-Northwest
rdreibelbis@westernu.edu
Member – Research Committee
Research Interests: Main research interests lie in the clinical realm, studying the lifestyle determinants of health
Steven Lam Steven Lam, DO
Assistant Professor of Family Medicine
COMP-Pomona
lams@westernu.edu
Research Interests: Medical Education or Academic Medicine
Dat Trinh Dat Trinh, DO
Chair & Associate Professor of Family Medicine
COMP-Pomona
dtrinh@westernu.edu
Research Interests: Emotional Intelligence and Inter-professional Treatment of Structural Related Disease with Osteopathic Manipulation.
Stephanie White Stephanie White, DO
Assistant Professor of Family Medicine
COMP-Pomona
swhite@westernu.edu
Research Interests: Clinical Education

NMM/OMM Faculty

Rebecca Giusti Rebecca Giusti, DO
Chair & Associate Professor of NMM/OMM and Family Medicine
COMP-Pomona
rgiusti@westernu.edu
Research Interests: Educational research on implementation of novel methods of teaching OMT and evaluating students’ knowledge and skill development in OMM.
Ray Hruby Ray Hruby, DO
Senior Consultant and Professor of NMM/OMM and Family Medicine
COMP-Pomona
rhruby@westernu.edu
Research Interests: Reliability and validity of osteopathic palpatory diagnostic tests; cranial bone motion assessment and validation; randomized clinical trials on effectiveness of osteopathic manipulation including cranial manipulation; practice based research network measuring outcomes of osteopathic manipulative treatment.
David Redding David Redding, DO
Associate Professor of NMM/OMM and Family Medicine
COMP-Pomona
dredding@westernu.edu
Research Interests: Reliability and validity of osteopathic palpatory diagnostic tests; cranial bone motion assessment and validation; randomized clinical trials on effectiveness of osteopathic manipulation including cranial manipulation; practice based research network measuring outcomes of osteopathic manipulative treatment.
Jesus Sanchez Jesus Sanchez, DO
Vice Chair & Associate Professor of NMM/OMM and Family Medicine
COMP-Pomona
jsanchez@westernu.edu
Research Interests:

  • OMT effect on healing time in patients with diabetic foot ulcers.
  • OMT effect on patients with asthma.
Michael Seffinger Michael Seffinger, DO
Professor of NMM/OMM and Family Medicine
COMP-Pomona
mseffinger@westernu.edu
Member – Research Committee
Research Interests:

  • Reliability and validity of palpatory diagnostic tests
  • Randomized clinical trials on Effectiveness of osteopathic manipulative treatment: For patients with Headache, vertigo, diabetes, low back pain, neck pain, foot ulcers, fibromyalgia
  • Doctor -patient entrainment of biorhythms
  • Physiological effect of cranial manipulation
  • Systematic reviews of scientific literature; practice based research network -patient oriented outcomes research in clinical practice; Associate Editor of the scientific journal of the osteopathic profession The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association; executive editor of the scientific research textbook of the osteopathic profession -Foundations of Osteopathic Medicine.

Medical Anatomical Sciences Faculty

Brion Benninger Brion Benninger, MD, MSc
Professor of Medical Innovation, Technology and Research Professor of Clinical Anatomy Executive Director, Medical Anatomy Center
COMP-Northwest
bbenninger@westernu.edu
Member – Research Committee
Research Interests: Formal training and interests in Sports Medicine, Imaging Technology, Clinical Anatomy, Medical Technology Development, Innovative Medical Education, Hyperbaric Medicine, Surgical Specialty Research and Reverse Translational Research. Professor Benninger is known internationally as one of today’s most progressive medical educators and has been recognized as a distinguished innovator with his work and integration of emerging technologies. He invented and developed the Triple Feedback Technique resulting in simultaneous physical and imaging examination of a patient. He is an ambassador for medical student and residency research. He has mentored more then 100 students with over 200 research projects presented at national/international conferences receiving several awards. He has taught and worked in the medical field in several countries, which has provided him invaluable insight and experience regarding patient care and research.
Brian Kraatz Brian Kraatz, PhD
Associate Professor of Anatomy
COMP-Pomona
bkraatz@westernu.edu
Research Interests: The primary focus within my lab is to understand the relationship between morphology and function. Using fossil and extant mammals, we utilized geometric morphometrics, traditional morphometrics, and dissection based comparative anatomy describe and evaluate anatomy in the context of evolutionary history. The majority of this work uses rabbits and their ancestors as a model. I am also interested in broader patterns of mammalian community evolution during the last 65 millions years. I have an active field program, most recently working in China, Tajikistan, and the United Arab Emirates. For more information, see briankraatz.com
Mathew Wedel Mathew Wedel, PhD
Associate Professor of Anatomy
COMP-Pomona
mwedel@westernu.edu
Research Interests: The two major threads of my research are the evolution of large size and long necks in sauropod dinosaurs, and the evolution of pneumatic (air-filled) bones in birds and other dinosaurs. I am also interested in the evolution and biogeography of dinosaurs in the Early Cretaceous Period in North America, and posture and function of the head and neck in living and fossil animals. Most of my work can be summarized by the question, “How much can we know about the soft tissue, appearance, and lifestyle of an animal based on its skeleton?”
Vicki Wedel Vicki Wedel, PhD
Associate Professor of Anatomy
COMP-Pomona
vwedel@westernu.edu
Research Interests:

  • Developing new forensic science methods for determining age and season at death from human skeletal remains
  • Detecting skeletal blunt force trauma and patterned bone injuries including defense wounds
  • Determining which medicolegal investigations of death are most likely to turn into cold case investigations
  • Measuring bone quality and quantity to study health and nutritional status among enslaved and free American blacks