Jose A. Torres-Ruiz, Ph.D.,was a 1982 graduate of the first NIH-Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Program class at the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry with a minor in Biology. He continued his studies at Washington University in Pullman, Washington, where he earned a master’s degree in 1985 and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1987. In 1988, he joined the faculty at the Ponce School of Medicine in Puerto Rico as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry. He was promoted to the ranks of Associate Professor and Full Professor in 1991 and 1996, respectively. During 1991, he accepted a Visiting Professorship in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Washington State University. In 1995, Dr. Torres-Ruiz was invited to serve as a Trainee at the NIH Extramural Associate Program to gain exposure to grants management and research administration in general. Through his tenure at the Ponce School of Medicine he has had the opportunity to play a role in the development of its research enterprise. Along these lines, as Director of the NIH-MBRS Program (1993-2006), Chairman of the Biochemistry Department (1995-present), Director of the Office for Sponsored Research Projects and Programs (1995-1998), and the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies (2000-2010) he has provided the leadership for the coordination, management, and administration of multifaceted research programs as well as other research related activities. Dr. Torres-Ruiz is currently the Vice President for Academic Affairs for the Ponce Health Sciences University. From the beginning of his career, his research interests have focused on elucidating the mechanisms of protein folding and the mode of action of Molecular Chaperones/Heat Shock Proteins from prokaryotic as well as eukaryotic organisms. Molecular Chaperones have proven to have a fundamental role in protein folding and, therefore, a wide range of biological processes including cell cycling and cell survival under pathological conditions such as cancer. More recently, Dr. Torres-Ruiz was named the Principal Investigator of the Puerto Rico Site for the “Trial to Prevent Insulin Dependent Diabetes in Genetically at Risk (TRIGR) Program. This randomized multicenter effort intends to determine whether a delay in the in the exposure of babies to intact protein can reduce the risk of developing Type I Diabetes in children who are genetically predisposed in getting Diabetes. Since 1992, Dr. Torres-Ruiz has served as a scientific reviewer for a variety of programs managed through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Howard Hughes Foundation. In 2001 he was elected President of the MARC/MBRS Program Directors Organization. He is the PI of the NCI U-56 Ponce School of Medicine/Moffitt Comprehensive Cancer Center Partnership which was incepted in 2006. The main intention of this initiative is to create the basic infrastructure for the establishment and expansion of a research and educational center in cancer to serve the south region of the city of Ponce in Puerto Rico. Dr. Torres-Ruiz is also the Program Director of two research infrastructure initiatives sponsored by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR); the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Program, and the Puerto Rico Clinical and Translational Research Consortium (PRCTRC).
Dr. Torres-Ruiz has served a member of various national groups including; the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Item Development for the USLME Part I (Biochemistry and Cell Biology).
In 2012, Dr. Torres-Ruiz was selected as the Chair of the Scientific Committee for the 13th RCMI International Symposium on Health Disparities titled “Translating Science to Better Health: The Power of Diversity and Multicultural Engagement”. This scientific activity was held December 10-13, 2012 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This International Symposium was designed to share information in areas related to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, cancer, women`s health, mental health, infectious disease, stroke, behavioral and social health and their relationship to improving minority health and health disparities.