SJBSM-RC Grantsmanship Independent Research Development (GIRD) Program

For the period of 2018-2020 of the SJBSM Research Strategic Plan, there are four faculty members actively engage in research activities, working in individual and collaborative research projects in their areas of expertise. These talented junior faculty members are the first group of participants in the SJBSM-RC Grantsmanship Independent Research Development (GIRD) Program (2018-2020) to increase peer-review publications and develop biomedical and clinical competitive research. According to their research area of interest, they are working with a team of advisors from other local and national institutions to provide them with support and guidance, as well as senior coaches to help them in their pathway to become independent researchers.

Dr. Yaritza Inostroza-Nieves

Received her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico, Humacao, PR, in 2007 and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Puerto Rico Medical Science Campus in 2012. Dr. Inostroza-Nieves joined San Juan Bautista School of Medicine (SJBSM) as Assistant Professor and in 2016, completed a postdoc in Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard School of Medicine as Research Fellow in Medicine. She currently functions as Associate Dean of Biomedical Sciences and is in a research track tenured position. Dr. Inostroza-Nieves was the PI of the Abbvie Research Scholarship Program in SJBSM (2017 - 2019). She worked in the field of molecular immunology looking at the biochemical process and signaling mechanisms in the immune system. More recently become interested in the deleterious effects of inflammation in neurodegenerative diseases and potential therapeutics for these diseases. One of her research projects include studying the pro-inflammatory activation of microglia cells by molecules in blood pressure regulation and its role on neurodegenerative diseases. Activated microglia were found surrounding lesions of various neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, muscular amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and multiple sclerosis. Over activated microglia may accelerate the process of these neurodegenerative diseases. This is a novel mechanism of microglia cells activation and will provide key information to understand neurodegenerative disease pathogenesis. Her goals are to further develop as an independent investigator while facilitating team science and strong collaborations.

Dr. Maricarmen Colón-Díaz

Received a BS in General Sciences from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico in 2006 and a Ph.D in Molecular Biology in 2012 from the Ponce School of Medicine, followed by post-doctoral studies in microbiology at the Universidad Central del Caribe. In 2012, she started in SJBSM as an Assistant Professor in the Physiology Department and is currently the Chair of the Physiology/Pathology Department in a research track tenure position. She also worked in two collaborative projects with Caribbean Central University focused on the detection of ER Stress markers using a proteomic approach in human prostatic cancer and microglial cells and on the molecular mechanism of apoptosis. At present, she has a laboratory in SJBSM and is working in collaborative research with Ponce Health Sciences University and University of Arizona in the link of environmental factors and epigenetic reprogramming in endometriosis, specifically how exposure to phthalate esters modifies histone modification patterns that lead to alterations in the normal function of the endometrium. After reaching this immediate goal, her long-term professional goal is to build an active research group with a focus on women’s reproductive health, specifically on how epigenetics mechanisms by interactions between genes and external factors shaped women predisposition to suffer from diseases that impair its reproductive capacity.

Dr. Yamixa Delgado

Obtained a BSc in Industrial Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR)-Humacao in 2008 and a PhD in Biochemistry & Biotechnology from the UPR-Rio Piedras Campus and Medical Sciences Campus in 2015. Then, she worked as an adjunct professor while she completed a postdoctoral experience at the UPR system. In 2017, Dr. Delgado joined SJBSM as an Assistant Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology. Dr. Delgado is in a research track tenured position and has a vast research experience working in projects focused on: molecular modeling and electron paramagnetic resonance simulations in protein dynamics; development of nanoparticles design, glycosylation of proteins, lipid-protein formulations and drug delivery systems for cancer therapy; and understanding the therapeutic potential of novel metal-based anticancer compounds. She has earned different prestigious fellowships from NASA Space Grant Consortium (NASA-PRSGC), National Institute of Health (NIH), and National Science Foundation (NSF). In addition, her projects were published in different peer-review journals and presented at local, national and international scientific conferences. Her research laboratory at the SJB-Core Lab facility is focused on drug design, development and delivery using nano-formulations for cancer therapy. She is also actively involved in collaborative research with different investigators in PR (UPR System and University Ana G Méndez) and USA (Stanford University) to contribute to the advancement of cancer research and reducing health disparities.

Dr. Linda Laras

Obtained premedical studies from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR)-Mayaguez and medical studies at the Valencia School of Medicine, Spain. She is Board Certified OB GYN and completed successfully two graduate programs: a Master’s in Public Health Maternal Child Health and a post-doctoral Master of Science in Clinical Research at the UPR Medical Sciences Campus. She also did a fellowship in Pediatric Adolescent Gynecology at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Laras is a recognized expert in Sexual Violence as a health problem, has been recognized by national organizations and the legislature for her work, has published two peer review articles, has given multiple conferences. She joined SJBSM in 2016 as an Assistant Professor and Director of the SJBSM Puerto Rico Health Justice Center (PRHJC). Dr. Laras work includes direct patient, education and research. She has a team composed of nurses, psychologists, social workers, community outreach, media communicator, criminal justice coordinator, and epidemiologists. She has a coordinated network of 8 Hospital called SAFE Hospitals that provide services to victims. Currently, the PRHJC has developed a research division where medical students are mentored IRB approved research projects. The PRHJC is structured for translational research, identification of gaps, their impact, development of new interventions and outcomes, all possible due to the follow up from disclosure to prosecution.