Barbara Burton and Reuben M. Morriss III Professor
Carlos Cruchaga, PhD, is pursuing a better understanding of the molecular underpinnings of disease, which stands to improve human health.
He is a pioneer in the use of human genomic data to elucidate the biology of neurodegenerative diseases. His key aim is to integrate genetics, functional genomics, and molecular analysis of additional biological systems — or multi-omics — to more fully comprehend diseases of the brain and central nervous system. As he discovers new genes and new pathways in Alzheimer’s and related diseases, it offers promise in elevating treatments.
“We are moving toward an era in which individual care plans will be customized based on a patient’s genetic profile,” he said. “Already, we are using differentiated approaches in clinical trials based upon one or more specific genetic traits identified in study participants.”
Cruchaga earned his PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Navarra in his home country of Spain. His postdoctoral training brought him to the School of Medicine, where he studied quantitative human genomics in the laboratory of Alison Goate, DPhil.
Cruchaga established his own laboratory at the medical school in 2011 to explore the genetic architecture of neurodegenerative diseases. In 2019, he became the scientific adviser of The Elizabeth H. and James S. McDonnell III Genome Institute at Washington University, and in 2021, founding director of the NeuroGenomics and Informatics Center, and associate director of the Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.
According to Cruchaga, professorships accelerate the pace at which science advances.
“Sometimes our scientific thinking is high-risk, high-reward,” he said. “Yet, it may take years to secure funding from the National Institutes of Health. In those cases, the confidence of donors gives us resources to launch new avenues of research much sooner than we could otherwise. The diseases call on us to act swiftly, and philanthropic support makes breakthrough scientific progress possible.”