About The Team

Leadership
Dhruv Sareen, PhD
Executive Director, Biomanufacturing Center, Assistant Professor, Biomedical Sciences, Director, Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Core Facility
Management
Loren Ornelas-Menendez
Manager, Biomanufacturing Center

Ornelas received her bachelor’s degree from Mount Saint Mary’s University in 2007. She obtained her MBA in 2015 from the same institution with an emphasis on entrepreneurship. She has been with Cedars-Sinai for over 10 years and has an extensive background in stem cell generation, culture and differentiation. Ornelas currently manages the Cedars-Sinai Biomanufacturing Center (CBC) and acts as project manager for the CBC’s various research projects, including the Answer ALS project, which involves collecting samples and generating induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for motor neuron differentiation from over 1,000 patient samples.

Business and Administration
Allie Shamash
Senior Administrative Assistant

Shamash graduated from the University of Washington Foster School of Business with a bachelor or arts in business administration. With a career that spans retail and nonprofit work to event planning to professional chef, she has over 10 years of experience in customer service and business administration. Shamash was thrilled to join the Cedars-Sinai Biomanufacturing Center (CBC) team in 2017 to facilitate the work of the Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) Core and development of the CBC.

Process Development and Manufacturing
Raquel Martin Ibanez
Process Development Scientist

Martin-Ibanez received her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy, master’s degree in pharmacy and pharmaceutical technology and PhD in stem cells and neuroscience at the University of Barcelona. Her scientific career has been focused on the study of stem cells and their application in cell therapy strategies. In 2012, she set up an academic good manufacturing practices (GMP) facility (Creatio) for the manufacturing of cell and gene therapy products for early Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials. As the qualified person and QA manager, Martin-Ibanez led and coordinated a cross-functional team involved in process development, manufacturing, quality control testing and quality assurance. In 2017, she began working as a consultant providing advisory services to support scientific and regulatory activities during early development of advanced therapy medicinal products. In 2019 Martin-Ibanez joined the Cedars-Sinai Biomanufacturing Center (CBC) as a process development scientist. She is currently the CBC’s manufacturing manager.

Weidong Xiong, PhD
Associate Biomedical Scientist

Xiong received his medical training and began his medical career in the Department of Medicine at Henan Medical University. He completed his post-doctoral training in the Molecular and Gene Therapy Unit at the University of Manchester. Xiong has extensive experience in molecular biology and viral vector production, including adenoviral, lentiviral and AAV. He has a special interest in gene and cell therapy, genome engineering and their applications in stem cells to enable efficient discovery of drugs and treatment of intractable diseases.  

Lindsay Panther
Associate Biomedical Scientist

Panther is an associate biomedical scientist at the Cedars-Sinai Biomanufacturing Center, where she is responsible for generating over 700 induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines and now manages the research and development team. She has worked at Cedars-Sinai for over seven years. During that time, she has been involved in many different projects, primarily Answer ALS. Panther has a bachelor of science in biology from California State University, San Bernardino. 

Aaron Frank
Biomedical Specialist

Frank leads the motor neuron production team at the Cedars-Sinai Biomanufacturing Center and has 10 years of basic and clinical research experience. Prior to joining the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center research community, his work at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center focused on the regulation of adipose tissue metabolism by estrogens. Currently, Frank oversees the culturing and differentiation of 1,000 patient-generated iPSC lines into motor neurons for the landmark Answer ALS project.

Emilda Gomez
Biomedical Specialist

Gomez has worked at Cedars-Sinai since 2015 and been working with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) since 2011. As a biomedical specialist, she focuses on the maintenance, expansion and banking of iPSCs. She is also working on integrating an automation system to the workflow. Gomez takes great pride in maintaining the quality of the iPSCs. She has a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Cornell University and a master of engineering from Osaka University.

Chunyan Liu
Biomedical Specialist

Prior to her position at the Cedars-Sinai Biomanufacturing Center (CBC), Liu worked as a research assistant at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute. She also worked at the Henan Institute of Medical Science and Henan Medical University as a research assistant and medical resident with a specialization in ultrasonic imaging. Liu currently is responsible for characterization (e.g., ICC, EB Scorecard, Karyotype, EBNA-PCR, T-cell clonality, pluripotency qPCR) of all iPSCs generated at the CBC and training new members for the QC side.  

Erick Galvez
Biomedical Technician
Daniel Perez
Biomedical Technician

Perez studied microbiology and cell science at the University of Florida from 2012 to 2016 and graduated with a bachelor of science. He has carried out a variety of research projects at the University of Florida, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Riverside. Perez’s lab experience in microbiology ranges from bacterial to mammalian cell culturing, computational biology and bioinformatics.

Susan Lei
Biomedical Technician
Imara Meepe
Biomedical Technician

Meepe graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a bachelor of science in biology. She conducted research in the lab of Yutaka Niihara, MD, at LA BioMed at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. She received her master’s in biology at California State University, Long Beach while a researcher in the lab of Douglas Pace, PhD, and then completed her thesis on calcium-binding proteins in the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Meepe joined Cedars-Sinai in 2019 to pursue her interest in regenerative medicine.

Louis Pinedo
Biomedical Technician

Pinedo earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from California Lutheran University in 2016. After graduating, he worked as a clinical lab technician at Esoterix Inc., where he contributed to the successful completion of a large number of endocrinology assays. He then joined Hygiena, where he took part in the manufacturing of bacterial detection kits. In October 2018, Pinedo joined the Cedars-Sinai Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) Core, where he has manufactured stem cell lines and aided neuronal differentiation.

Quality Assurance
Ron Dholoo
Manager, Quality Assurance

Dholoo is an experienced professional with the ability to develop and provide value in fast-paced and start-up environments. He has a strong passion for simple, efficient, compliant manufacturing operations and enjoys working with diverse and dynamic teams that have shifting priorities. Dholoo’s background in working in a cGMP environment has enabled him to build high-performing teams that yield exceptional results.

Quality Control
Mamadou Diallo
Biomedical Specialist
Chunyan Liu
Biomedical Specialist

Prior to her position at the Cedars-Sinai Biomanufacturing Center (CBC), Liu worked as a research assistant at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute. She also worked at the Henan Institute of Medical Science and Henan Medical University as a research assistant and medical resident with a specialization in ultrasonic imaging. Liu currently is responsible for characterization (e.g., ICC, EB Scorecard, Karyotype, EBNA-PCR, T-cell clonality, pluripotency qPCR) of all iPSCs generated at the CBC and training new members for the QC side.  

Ruby Moran
Research Lab Assistant

Moran graduated from Mount Saint Mary’s University, Los Angeles with a bachelor of science in biochemistry and performed environmental chemistry research under Sylvine Deprèle, PhD. In 2018, she gained stem cell experience through a course led by Loren Ornelas-Menendez and Lindsay Panther. To further pursue her biomedical interests, Moran began working as a research lab assistant in the Regenerative Medicine Institute at Cedars-Sinai, where she remained to become a biomedical technician assistant. 

Operations and Facilities
Phillip Gutierrez
Facilities Supervisor

Gutierrez has over 10 years of current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) experience in commercial pharmaceutical and biotech facilities as a facility and utility operator and engineer. He has a bachelor of science in business management from Western Governors University.

Browse Cell Line Catalog

Hundreds of already established lines spanning over 30 degenerative diseases.