Lissette Delgado-Cruzata

Lissette Delgado-Cruzata

Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology
Phone number: 
Room number and address: 
New Building 5.66.17


Fellowship, Cancer Epidemiology Program, Mailman School of Public Health, , Columbia University, New York

Ph.D., Graduate School of the Arts and Sciences, Columbia University, New York (Yeast Genetics) 

M.P.H., Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York (Environmental Health Sciences

B.S., School of Biology, University of Havana, Cuba (Biochemistry) 


Dr. Lissette Delgado-Cruzata is Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology in the Department of Sciences. She earned her Masters in Public Health and PhD at Columbia University, and her undergraduate degree at the University of Havana, Cuba. She started as a basic molecular biologist carrying out genetic research in yeast, but found that she could apply her skills to population studies integrating her molecular biology expertise to the understanding of disease etiology and progression. She is a molecular epidemiologist who studies chronic diseases and carries out molecular epidemiology studies investigating epigenetic biomarkers. She is also interested in the associations of these biomarkers with lifestyle and behavioral factors. Her current research explores epigenetic biomarkers in minority populations with the goal of decreasing health disparities. She is the PI of an NIH-funded project that investigates the relationship between breast cancer mortality, DNA methylation and ancestry of women at high risk of breast cancer in the New York site of the Breast Cancer Family Registry. She expects that this project will increase our knowledge of the role DNA methylation plays in breast cancer mortality of Hispanic women. 

Her teaching expands the undergraduate and graduate curriculum in the biological sciences. She has developed a new course, AFR/SCI 252 Race and Science, that explores the sociological and biological aspects of race. This course will be co-taught by Dr. Delgado-Cruzata and Dr. Adams from Africana Studies. She also developed and teaches the Cell and Molecular Biology capstone course (BIO488). In this course she guides students in the conception, writing and presentation of a research proposal in the topic of cancer biology. She is also a course coordinator for the Modern Biology II (BIO104) and Topics of Cell and Molecular Biology (BIO380) courses. She teaches in the Forensic Science Master program Advanced Genetics (FOS704) and Advanced Molecular Biology lab (FOS732).  She is passionate about increasing the number of minority students that go on to graduate programs, and mentors many undergraduates in her research lab. She encourages her mentees to attend undergraduate conferences and explore opportunities outside the college. Two of her most recent mentees are enrolled in docotoral degrees at Princeton and Cornell Universities. 

JJC Affiliations

Cell and Molecular Biology and Forensic Sciences Majors

Professional Memberships

American Association for Cancer Research and American Society for Cell Biology

Course Taught

Modern Biology II (BIO104), Cell and Molecular Biology Capstone in Cancer Biology (BIO488), and Advanced Genetics (FOS704) 


Languages spoken/fluent in

English and Spanish

Scholarly Work

Delgado-Cruzata L, Wu HC, Liao Y, Kappil M, Santella RM, Terry MB. Peripheral mononuclear cell DNMT1 expression and breast cancer risk in sisters discordant for breast cancer in the New York site of the Breast Cancer Family Registry. In preparation

Delgado-Cruzata L, Rodriguez Alvarez M, Bliese A, Guzman E, Tavarez W, Acosta ME, Sabirov  T, Jimenez M,  Oviedo Hilario CA, Mesa C, Bitinaite D, Kavaliauskas A, Kadavath S, Husseini I, Thomas G, Kashi KB, Gebeyehu M, Samip D, Parra Z, Robles C, Suri P, Gold M, Hinson H. Associations of hypomethylation of the Dual Specificity Phosphatase (DUSP22) promoter in cell-free DNA (cf-DNA) with rheumatoid arthritis, joint space narrowing and neuropathic pain in Hispanic individuals. Under review ACR Open Journal. 

Kappil M, Terry MB, Delgado-Cruzata L, Liao Y, Santella RM. Mismatch Repair Polymorphisms as Markers of Breast Cancer Prevalence in the Breast Cancer Family Registry. Anticancer Res. 2016 Sep;36(9):4437-41. Impact factor: 1.94

Delgado-Cruzata L, Zhang W, McDonald JA, Tsai WY, Valdovinos C, Falci L, Wang Q, Crew KD, Santella RM, Hershman DL, Greenlee H.  Dietary modifications, weight loss, and changes in metabolic markers affect global DNA methylation in Hispanic, African American, and Afro-Caribbean breast cancer survivors. J Nutr. 2015 Apr;145(4). Impact factor: 3.92

Delgado-Cruzata L, Vin-Raviv N, Tehranifar P, Flom J, Reynolds D, Gonzalez K, Santella RM, Terry MB. Correlations in global DNA methylation measures in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and granulocytes. Epigenetics. 2014 Nov;9(11). Impact factor: 4.78

Delgado-Cruzata L, Wu HC, Liao Y, Santella RM,, Terry MB. DNA methylation at repetitive sequences and extent of family history of breast cancer in unaffected women of the New York site of the Breast Cancer Registry. Epigenetics. 2013 Oct 29;9(2). Impact factor: 4.78

Lai RK, Chen Y, Guan X, Nousome D, Sharma C, Canoll P, Bruce J, Sloan AE, Cortes E, Vonsattel JP, Su T, Delgado-Cruzata L, Gurvich I, Santella RM, Ostrom Q, Lee A, Gregersen P, Barnholtz-Sloan J. Genome-wide methylation analyses in glioblastoma multiforme. PLoS One. 2014 Feb 21;9(2)Impact factor: 3.73

Wu HC, Delgado-Cruzata L, Machella N, Wang Q, Santella RM, Terry MB. DNA double-strand break repair genotype and phenotype and breast cancer risk within sisters from the New York site of the Breast Cancer Family Registry (BCFR). Cancer Causes Control. 2013 Dec; 24(12). Impact factor: 3.5

Complete List of Published Work in My Bibliography:

Invited Talks/ Symposiums:

Personal Perspectives—Voices of STEM Latinas Panel, NSF INCLUDES Symposium for ADVANCING Latinas in STEM Academic Careers. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, May 2019

Successes and challenges of a Latinx scientist: A  personal trajectory into epigenetic research, 3rd Annual Dr. Dale Blackstock Lecture and Awards Ceremony. SUNY Downstate Medical Center, March 2019  

Minority Women in STEM: The Road Ahead. Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center, University of Connecticut, October 2016

DNA methylation, an epigenetic modification, and breast cancer risk. Queensborough Community College, March 2015

Honors and Awards

Outstanding Scholarly Mentoring Award, John Jay College, 2019. American Society of Cell Biology Linkage Fellow, 2016 and 2017. American Society of Cell Biology Visiting Professor Award, 2016 and 2017. Minority Institution Scholar in Cancer Research Award, American Association for Cancer Research, 2015 and 2016. Women in Cancer Research Award, American Association for Cancer Research, 2012. New Investigators Award, American Society of Preventive Oncology, 2012. Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award, American Association for Cancer Research, 2010 and 2011

Research Summary

 Dr. Delgado-Cruzata's group specializes in the study of epigenetic modifications such DNA methylation and micro RNAs (miRNAs), that regulate gene expression independently of changes in the DNA sequence. We carry out in vitro cell culture studies and clinical and/or population studies, to better understand disease etiology through our study of epigenetic modifications. We are currently working in three projects:

1. In one study we are determining DNA methylation biomarkers associations with breast cancer mortality in Hispanic women. We are studying the association of known DNA methylation epitypes with breast cancer mortality considering genetic ancestry. We will also identify new DNA methylation biomarkers specific to Hispanic women at high risk of breast cancer.

2. In another, we are identifying epigenetic biomarkers associated with rheumatoid arthritis in minority populations. Dr. Delgado-Cruzata is one of the PIs of the Epigenetics of Rheumatoid Arthritis (ERA) study, which is recruiting individuals in New York and collecting their specimens to determine whether changes in epigenetic biomarkers can inform clinicians about the severity of rheumatoid arthritis and aid in the development of new therapies.

3. In a third one, we are investigating the effect of chemicals in modulating the levels of miRNAs using high through-put Nanostring analysis. This project investigates how chemotherapeutic drugs (mitomycins) and dietary polyphenols (catechins) interact with miRNAs and potentially disrupt their regulation of important cellular pathways. This is a multidisciplinary project. It uses bioinformatic, organic chemistry and analytical techniques along with molecular biology methods to investigate the effects of these  chemicals in breast cancer cells. It is a collaboration with Drs Champeil, Proni, Cheng and Concheiro Guisan from our John Jay College's Science Department, and Dr Yoel Rodriguez from Hostos Community College.

Area of Expertise

Most requested topics by media

Cancer Research
DNA Analysis

Faculty Expertise: topics/keywords

Epigenetics, DNA methylation, microRNAs, chronic diseases, breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, health disparities 

In The Media


3rd Annual Dr. Dale Blackstock Women's History Month Lecture and Awards Keynote Presentation