2023–2024 NHLCC Scholar: Tanya Cruz

Tanya Cruz, PhD CandidateTanya Cruz
PhD Candidate
University of Virgina

Tanya Cruz is a first-generation college student, pursuing a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia (UVA). She received her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in Tissue Engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2022. She is a current National Science Foundation Graduate Research Program Fellow and UVA Distinguished Fellow.

Her current PhD work focuses on investigating Cerebral Cavernous Malformations (CCMs). In this rare disease abnormal blood vessels will form in the brain or spinal cord and because of this, patients can experience headaches, seizures, and hemorrhagic stroke. This disease disproportionately affects the Hispanic population so much that the KRIT1 mutation is commonly referred to as “Common Hispanic Mutation”.

The progression of this disease is very quick, and many times can lead to hemorrhagic stroke which will leave many individuals impaired or ultimately lead to death. This is a very understudied disease but as an NHLCC Scholar she hopes to promote knowledge to her community about this disease and understand how it disproportionally affects the Hispanic Population.