Erin dela Cruz is an ARCS Fellow in the University of Washington’s Molecular & Cellular Biology Ph.D. program, which partners UW with local organizations Fred Hutch, Institute for Systems Biology and the Center for Infectious Disease Research.
Dela Cruz’s research focuses on the role of vaginal lactobacilli in the development of bacterial vaginosis (BV). BV is a condition that most commonly affects women of reproductive age and can cause premature birth and additional complications if developed during pregnancy. BV also increases the risk of catching or transmitting other STDs, including HIV.
Dela Cruz’s findings come from analyzing large data sets derived from patient studies, drawing from the background in applied mathematics and public health she gained at UC Berkeley during her bachelor’s program.
The ARCS Fellowship, funded by WRF, was an important factor in her decision to attend UW and has alleviated some of the financial distractions students often face.
Upon completing her Ph.D., dela Cruz plans to pursue her M.D., become a pediatric infectious disease physician and continue research in the field of host-microbe interactions.