De La Cruz named Kenan Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry

Enrique M. De La Cruz is an international leader in molecular motor proteins and the cytoskeleton.
Enrique M. De La Cruz
Enrique M. De La Cruz

Enrique M. De La Cruz, an international leader in molecular motor proteins and the cytoskeleton, was recently appointed the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, effective immediately.

He is a member of Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry.

De La Cruz has made profound contributions to three areas of biophysics including deciphering the molecular mechanisms underlying actomyosin function, RNA helicase function, and the regulation and mechanics of actin filament severing. He has authored 98 research publications in peer-reviewed journals, numerous review articles and commentaries, and chapters in undergraduate textbooks.

De La Cruz’s work transcends traditional boundaries between academic disciplines by using insights and techniques from biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering. His integrated research approach has revealed how regulatory proteins control the length and assembly dynamics of actin filaments and how kinetic adaptations among evolutionary-related proteins (e.g., RNA helicases, non-muscle myosin motors, G-proteins, and ENNP-family enzymes) provide for their biological functions and has allowed him and colleagues to develop novel enzyme therapeutics currently being evaluated in human patient clinical trials. His research is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

In recognition of this work, De La Cruz was named a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s inaugural class of fellows in 2021. He was also elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2022, of the Connecticut Academy of Science in 2021, and in 2020 honored as among Cell Press’ 100 most inspiring Hispanic/Latinx scientists in America. He has held numerous visiting appointments: he was a visiting scientist at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique (CEA) & Universite Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, France, a Mayent-Rothschild Senior Researcher Fellow at the Institut Curie, Paris, and an Invited Professor Fellow at ESPCI Paris Tech and Sorbonne Université.

In addition, De La Cruz is a dedicated advocate for making science more accessible to students from underrepresented backgrounds, and he has been recognized for this work by the Biophysical Society and other international organizations. He has delivered keynote lectures at institutions and universities across the country and around the world.

At Yale, De La Cruz has been recognized as an outstanding university citizen: he has served as chair of the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and as Head of Branford College. As Head of Branford College, he is known as an attentive mentor to undergraduate students who plays a key role in making Yale College feel like a home. He was a member of the inaugural cohort of Poorvu Center Faculty Fellows, a group of faculty members who collaborate on developing new pedagogical initiatives in support of teaching at Yale.

In addition, De La Cruz serves on the advisory board of the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, the Minority Organization for Retention and Expansion Steering Committee, and has served on numerous Yale College and university-wide bodies. Beyond Yale, he serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Biophysical Reviews, and other top publications in the field, and is actively involved in science outreach efforts at the elementary, high school, and college levels.

De La Cruz earned his Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry, Cell & Molecular Biology (BCMB) at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and received postdoctoral training at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

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