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 hmirrashed@weternu.edu

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. SKILLS AND EXPERTISE

  • Genetic techniques:  Microarray, Gene Deletion Array (GDA).
  • Molecular biology techniques: QPCR /PCR amplification, Total DNA/RNA extraction, Cloning of PCR products for sequencing, Western blot, Southern blot, Fluorescent in-situ Hybridization (FISH), Northern blot, RFLP/ AFLP, Protein isolation and separation methods, Proteomic.
  • Cell culture (Mammalian, yeast and bacterial, transfection, mutation).
  • Gel electrophoresis (agarose/acrylamide), DGGE & TGGE.
  • RNA synthesis from Yeast DNA and Arabidopsis plasmid.
  • Histology and Immunohistochemistry (Paraffin sections).
  • Microscopy (Fluorescent & Light Microcopy).
  • Experience in quality assurance and quality control related to veterinary drugs, Phytochemistry (herbal remedies and traditional medicines) and environmental bioproducts.
  • Experience in the critical evaluation of safety, efficacy data and health risk assessments related to natural health product, microbial hazards and environmental risk assessments of substances (organisms).
  • Development of two different softwares. Yeast Features (YF) and Growth Detector (GD) at Carleton University and University of Waterloo. These softwares are designed to assist in the mode of action studies of medicinal compounds.
  •  Extensive experience in risk assessment of microbial contaminants and prepare assessment reports with respect to both human and environmental health hazards.
  • Skilled and ability in planning and conducting scientific research for the characterization of microbial consortia and bioproducts and preparation of a comprehensive report on standard operating procedures (SOP).
  •  Excellent background in drafting, review and critical evaluation of scientific and other reports identify and analyze multidisciplinary data and provide advice to the Scientific Authority in the form of a scientific and regulatory report and recommendations.
  •  Knowledge of current and emerging issues, trends and challenges related to toxicology or biotechnology.


José Santiago Aguilar, PhD-Research Technician

PhD, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, 1981. BSc, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, 1977. jsaguilar@westernu.edu 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

  • Molecular Biology Micro array procedures (fluorescent and colloidal metal procedures); Southern and Northern  blots;  PCR (qualitative and quantitative); Preparation of total RNA and polyA RNA from cells and tissues /Gradient fractionation of  poly A RNA ; In vitro synthesis of mRNA/ Preparation and labeling of RNA probes; Library screening and isolation of clones/Subcloning of DNA in plasmids; Sequencing; DNA Mutations; Transfection of cells / Preparation of stable transfected cells.
  • Biochemistry:  Quantification of proteins; Column chromatography of proteins (Gel filtration, ion-exchange, affinity); Gel electrophoresis of proteins; Preparation of subcellular fractions; Extraction of lipids and proteolipids / Thin layer chromatography of lipids; Enzymatic assays; Radioligand binding assays.
  • Immunology:  Antibodies generation; ELISA, Western blots;  Immunohistochemical procedures.
  • Cell Biology and Virology: Tissue culture (different cell lines); Preparation of virus stocks; Quantization of virus by plaque assay; Histochemistry of cells and tissue slices.
  • Microscopy:  Confocal; Two-photon; Intravital.
  • Electrophysiology: Microinjection of RNA to frog oocytes; Voltage-clamp recording in frog oocytes.
  • Animal handling: Rats, mice, rabbits, frog, insects; Drug and pathogens injections (intracranial and other routes); Surgery.
  • Computer: Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Power Point); Graphical Statistical Analysis (Prism); Molecular Biology tools; Clampfit (Electrophysiology);SimFCS (Fluorescence dynamics).


Jessica Chinison

MS, Oregon State University, Corvallis, 2015
BS, University of California, Los Angeles, 2010


I am a Research Associate with two years of research experiences acquired during my graduate studies at Oregon State University. As a graduate student, I worked in a bacterial pathogenesis laboratory, acquired, and used a broad spectrum of molecular tools and tissue culture techniques to study the pathogenicity and secretory mechanism of Mycobacterium avium subspecies hommissuis, an environmental microorganism found in water and soil. This opportunistic pathogen infects different mammalian hosts and causes non-tuberculosis pulmonary diseases in severe immunosuppressed patients. During the past two years, I also acquired teaching experience as a teaching assistant in an immunology and microbiology laboratories. I assisted the instructor by grading lab reports, setting up the equipment and material for each experiment, and answering student’s question during classes. I also had the opportunity to teach students about basic laboratory procedure and safety measures and to be an example to them.

I am currently working in a stem cell/cancer biology laboratory and working on a project involving prostate cancer cells and the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. Working on this project have provided me the wonderful opportunity to learn new techniques and skills such as the use of confocal microscopy, performing luciferase reporter assay, and transfecting cells. As a Research Associate at Western University of Health Sciences for the College of Veterinary Medicine, I am grateful and excited to be part of a team who works diligently in advancing and providing novel discovery in the field of cancer and stem cell research.

Research Skills and Expertise

  • Molecular cloning (e.g., designed primers, set restriction digest, performed PCR, extracted plasmid
    DNA, transformed plasmid DNA into competent cells, prepared competent cells, ran agarose gel
    electrophoresis, and performed gel extraction and purification)
  • RT-PCR, and PCR
  • Microscopy (Fluorescent, bright field, and inverted microscope)
  • Tissue culture techniques (cells maintenance (freezing and thawing cells); invasion assay; uptake assay; cell viability assay)
  • Cell cytoskeleton staining
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Western blot, protein expression and purification
  • SDS-PAGE electrophoresis and coomassie staining
  • Gram staining, acid fast stain, and silver staining
  • In-gel digestion (peptide sample preparation for mass spectrometry analysis)
  • DNA and RNA extraction
  • Biochemical assay (FRET)
  • Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (MIC)
  • The preparation of bacterial agar or broth media and solutions
  • The use of GraphPad Prism, Microsoft Excel, Word, Powerpoint, and bioinformatics tools such as BLAST, SignalP, or Tuberculist 


Edith Martinez

MS, California State University, Los Angeles
BS, University of California, Santa Cruz

I recently earned a Master of Science degree in Biology from California State University, Los Angeles.  For my thesis research, I used next generation sequencing to estimate differentiation between populations and to identify genomic signatures of selection in a harvested marine fish.  Apart from my graduate work, I have over seven years of experience conducting and supporting research in plant and animal populations. 

Skills and Expertise

  • Next-generation sequencing data analysis and library preparation (restriction digest, adapter ligation, library enrichment and quantitation)
  • STR and SNP genotyping
  • Genetic/Genomic analysis software: Stacks pipeline, Structure, Genepop, Genetix, BayeScan, Fdist2, Geneious, Plink, Genemapper, Sequencher, CodonCode
  • Phylogenetic analysis software: Mesquite, T-Coffee, PhyML, FigTree
  • Unix and Python 2 programming languages
  • Database tools: BLAST, Progeny, Microsoft Access
  • DNA extraction and quantitation
  • Gel electrophoresis
  • PCR