Criselda Jean Cruz

Criselda Jean Cruz

International Visiting Graduate Student, Chemical and Physical Sciences

“I love how Toronto embraces diversity. The moment I arrived here, I felt I belonged.”

I am training to become a Physician-Scientist through the MD-PhD in Molecular Medicine Program of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine. After I finished my MD in my home university, I registered as an International Visiting Graduate Student (IVGS) at the University of Toronto. I am currently pursuing my research on assay development for malaria antibody detection as a full-time PhD candidate in the Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences

Why Malaria? Because even if there is cure for it, there are still areas that remain malaria-endemic in the world and in my home country, the Philippines, including the province where I am from. Malaria diagnosis can pose certain challenges, especially in far-flung areas. To eliminate the disease, prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment should take place hand-in-hand. The aim of my project is to come up with a malaria antibody detection test that can be deployed and used in a resource-limited setting.  

U of T has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to gain learning experience from the highest-ranked, research-intensive university in Canada. The collaboration between my supervisors in the Philippines and here at U of T led me to this opportunity. As an IVGS, I work closely with my supervisors from home and here at U of T, so it is a great experience to learn from distinguished professors in their respective fields, allowing me to understand concepts in different perspectives. I am grateful to be studying in an environment that supports research collaboration among scientists from different cultures and backgrounds to bring science closer to benefit the society.  

After I graduate, I plan to train in a residency program and pursue clinical practice together with medical research aimed at improving healthcare. Being a doctor is great because you can treat a patient, and at the same time see where research is needed at the point-of-care setting. By blending the clinical medicine I learned from my home university as a medical doctor and my U of T research experience, I hope to contribute to the field by helping to deliver better healthcare, especially towards the underserved. 

I love how Toronto embraces diversity. The moment I arrived here, I felt I belonged. So far everyone that I encountered have been extremely helpful and encouraging in many ways. The SGS, faculty members, staff, and colleagues are so nice and approachable whenever I have concerns regarding my registration and research experiments. From day one, I knew the U of T community is here to help me make the most out of my learning experience. The campus has several great places to study, libraries, a bookstore, and athletic centre, offering fitness classes that promotes a healthy study/work-life balance for the U of T community.