Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine Western University of Health Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine

CVM Research Technical Support

Hannah Mirrashed, PhD – Research Laboratory Manager

PhD, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, 2007
MSc, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, 1999

I am a research scientist with more than 5 years of experience in research. Throughout this experience, I was given the opportunity to co-author six peer-reviewed publications and develop skills in a variety of fields, including Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Mycology, Biotherapeutics, organization management and regulation.

I completed a B.Sc. in Microbiology, followed by a M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Molecular Bio/Chemical sciences with a specialization in Biotherapeutics and Pharmacokinetics.  During my two post-doctoral positions, I have focused my research on environmental issues such as biological wastewater treatment and risk assessment of microbial contaminants and data generation on microbial consortia stability and Ecotoxicology.

During my B.Sc. in Microbiology, I obtained experience in quality assurance in veterinary sciences and animal pharmacotoxicology by evaluating and analyzing biological and veterinary drugs and vaccines in a Drug Quality Control Laboratory.  My graduate work initially focused on the use of large-scale techniques to study fungal populations and their distributions world-wide. I investigated molecular genetic variation in fungal populations (M.Sc.), yeast proteomics and gene expression profiles in response to plant-derived antimicrobial macromolecules. This approach improved bioactive herbal compounds, contributing to the development and optimization of pharmaceutical agents (Pharmacokinetics) (Ph.D).

In addition, prior to my current position, I worked as a research associate in the Food science and Nutrition division at Carleton University from Sep 2011- Feb 2012. My research focused on nutrigenomics and interdisciplinary studies of novel antimicrobial bioactive compounds from natural products.  The research focuses on the mode of action of two major antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds; (1) Alkylresorcinols (phenolic acids) in cereal bran and (2) melatonin in sour cherries, in food and biological membranes in vitro.   The results improved our understanding of the relationship between these natural compounds and their function in living microorganisms.



José Santiago Aguilar, PhD-Research Technician

PhD, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, 1981.
BSc, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, 1977.

I have extensive research experience in Molecular and Cell Biology. My research has resulted in the publication of over fifty papers in peer-reviewed journals.  Before joining WesternU, I have worked in different research institutions in the USA (Northwestern, U. Illinois at Chicago, U. California Irvine) and abroad (Instuto Cajal, Madrid; Instituto Eduardo DeRobertis, Buenos Aires; Bath University, UK).   During this research work, I have trained many graduate and undergraduate students publishing their work in peer-review journals.

My research work has focused mainly on cell membrane receptor interactions and signaling. I have carried out studied on different membrane G protein coupled receptors (cholinergic muscarinic, adenosine). A hallmark of these studies was the development of a novel system to generate proteo-liposomes and utilize it to study receptor interactions with membrane proteins.  I have also studied ionotropic receptors (cholinergic nicotinic, GABA). A significant conclusion of these studies was the demonstration that allosteric modulators affect both the rate of activation and desensitization of receptors by agonists.

In addition, I have done research on the interactions of enveloped viruses (herpes simplex) with the cell membrane during penetration and cell-to-cell passage. In this work, I did research on gene expression (viral and cellular) during infection.  Important accomplishments related to this work were the development of micro-arrays to study herpes infection and the demonstration that polysaccharides are involved in cell-to-cell passage of herpes virus.

I have combined my research work with teaching activities. I have taught Basic Virology and Molecular Biology lab in UCI, Nutritional Biochemistry in CSULB, I have collaborated in post-graduate courses in Northwestern University, the University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and I have been an invited professor in the University of La Laguna (Spain).

In my research and teaching work I have utilized a broad variety of methodological procedures including, molecular biology, biochemistry, electrophysiology and fluorescence dynamic analysis in life cells and animals, as detailed below.

Research Skills and Expertise


Jonathan A Alvarez, MS

MS, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA, 2013
BA, University of Redlands, Redlands, CA, 2009

I am a Research Associate with 2 years of post-graduate laboratory experience. In those two years I have had the opportunity to work and develop skills in the fields of Structural Biology, Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Cellular Biology, Biochemistry, and Protein Chemistry. I also have experience teaching in primary and secondary public education system.

I received my BA in Biology from the University of Redlands, with two minors in Chemistry and Environmental Studies. During my undergraduate degree I worked for a low-income clinic helping to teach Diabetes Health courses to the local community. After receiving my BA I taught Life Science, Biology, and Earth Science to high school grades 9-12.

While studying for my MS in Biomedical Science I joined a Structural Biology lab where I focused my research utilizing Crystallography to determine unknown protein structures. Here, I also gained experience in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry.

After receiving my Masters I worked as a Lab Manager and Research Assistant for the Graduate College of Biomedical Sciences at WesternU. There, I managed multiple projects and was responsible to train several graduate students and volunteers. My research focused on protein expression, protein purification, and crystallography. My work there in that lab played a key role in the awarding of a 5-year, multi-million dollar R01-NIH Grant.

My current research focuses on Cell and Cancer Biology. Here I am managing multiple projects using multiple cancer cells lines, induced pluripotent stem cells, and human embryonic stem cells. Thus far, we have made exciting breakthroughs in cell differentiation and efforts to re-sensitize drug-resistant cancer cells.

Research Skills and Expertise