Charles Sun Dela Cruz, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary) and of Microbial Pathogenesis

Departments & Organizations

Office of Student Research

Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine: Dela Cruz Lab

Virology laboratories

Yale Medical Group


Dr. Dela Cruz completed his research training through an MD/PhD program in the area of immunology and virology from University of Toronto and Yale. Clinically, he is trained in internal medicine, and specializes in pulmonary and critical care medicine and is currently an Assistant Professor at Yale University in the same department. His laboratory is interested in studying the pathogenesis of inflammation, injury and repair in the lung using genetically modified animals. This has allowed the lab to carefully study the molecular and cellular responses of certain novel mediators in the lung. His laboratory focuses on two main research programs. (1) Studying the effects of cigarette smoke (CS) exposure in the pathogenesis of airway and lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) using preclinical genetic mouse models and human biosamples. (2) Studying novel immune regulators in the lung during respiratory infections. The goal of the lab is also to be able to confirm and translate the findings using biospecimens from the established and establishing cohort of human patients with various lung diseases.

COPD is a composite entity that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is a leading cause of death in the world, and is a disease that is in need of new treatments. One of the goal of our laboratory is to investigate the interaction between CS and respiratory virus infection in the pathogenesis of COPD and identify novel therapeutic targets for this respiratory disease. It has been long thought that the frequent respiratory infections in COPD patients are due to their depressed immune function. Our studies have revealed that CS-exposed hosts have an over-exaggerated immune reaction to viral infections. Frequent acute COPD exacerbations correlate with increased rate of disease progression and more loss of lung function in COPD especially if it is due to viral infections. Our studies have shown that CS exposure has an impressive ability to regulate the innate immunity in the lung after influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection. CS enhances the inflammation, alveolar destruction and airway fibrosis caused by influenza virus and RSV. These effects are mediated by type I interferon and RIG-like helicase antiviral innate immune pathway. CS exposure also results in the induction of interleukin-15 in the setting of these respiratory infections. We hypothesize that these novel mechanistic pathways may explain the heightened inflammatory response and worsening lung functions in COPD patients with multiple virally-induced exacerbations, and the chronic lung inflammation seen in stable COPD patients. We have also translated our findings by studying these immune mediators in patients infected with various respiratory viruses and have thus far collected >200 human biosamples.

YCCI Scholar 2011

Project:07/01/11 - 06/30/13

Cigarette Smoke Exposure & Respiratory Virus Infection Interplay in Human Lung Diseases

Education & Training

MD Yale University School of Medicine (2003)
PhD University of Toronto (2000)
BS University of Toronto (1994)
Fellow Yale University School of Medicine
Resident Yale University School of Medicine
Board Certification AB of Internal Medicine, Critical Care Medicine (Internal Medicine) (2010)
Board Certification AB of Internal Medicine, Internal Medicine (2006)
Board Certification AB of Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Disease (2008)

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Contact Info

Charles Sun Dela Cruz, MD, PhD
Patient Care Locations
VA Connecticut Healthcare
950 Campbell Avenue

West Haven, CT 06516
Fitkin Memorial Pavilion
789 Howard Avenue

New Haven, CT 06519
Yale-New Haven Hospital
20 York Street

New Haven, CT 06510
Office Location
The Anlyan Center
300 Cedar Street, Ste S441

New Haven, CT 06519
Mailing Address
PO Box 208057
300 Cedar Street

New Haven, CT 06520-8057

Dela Cruz Lab