Oscar Ruiz, PhD

College of Science and Engineering
Biology, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology
Assistant Professor of Biology


  • PhD, Human Genetics, University of Utah, 2012
  • MS, Food Science and Biotechnology, Universidad Autonoma de Tamaulipas Reynosa-Aztlan, 2003
  • BS, Biology, University of Texas at San Antonio, 2000

Courses Taught

  • Genetics
  • Embryology
  • Research in Bioinformatics
  • General Biology I
  • General Biology II
  • Introduction to Biology

Teaching Focus

Dr. Ruiz enjoys teaching Biology to students of all levels.  He prides himself in transmitting his love for the natural world to his students in ways that they find enjoyable. His favorite class to teach is Embryology because it encompasses all of his favorite subject in Biology.

Research Interests and Publications

Dr. Ruiz’s research focuses on using the zebrafish to study how epithelial tissue maintenance and regeneration play important roles in maintaining a functional barrier that can prevent the entry of pathogens and ultimately prevent opportunistic infections from occurring.

Yu Y, Alvarado R, Petty LE, Bohlender RJ, Shaw DM, Below JE, Bejar N, Ruiz OE, Tandon B, Eisenhoffer GT, Kiss DL, Huff CD, Letra A, Hecht JT. Polygenic risk impacts PDGFRA mutation penetrance in nonsyndromic cleft lip and palate. Hum Mol Genet. 2022 Feb 11; PMID: 35147171.

Ruiz OE, Samms KM, Eisenhoffer GT. A protocol to evaluate epithelial regeneration after inducing cell loss in zebrafish larvae. STAR Protocols 2022 Mar 18;3(1):101073. PMCID: PMC8749296.

Wurster S, Ruiz OE, Tatara AM, Kontoyiannis DP, Eisenhoffer GT. Protocol for fungal infection following the induction of epithelial cell loss in larval zebrafish. STAR Protoc. 2021 Dec 17;2(4):100963. PMCID: PMC8609045.

Atieh YM, Ruiz OE and Eisenhoffer GT. Protocol for quantitative analysis of pulsatile contractions and cell extrusion in epithelial tissues of larval zebrafish. Star Protocols. 2021 June 12;2(2):100600. doi: 10.1016/j.xpro.2021.100600. eCollection 2021 Jun 18. PMID: 34169293.

Wurster S*, Ruiz OE*, Samms KM, Tatara AM, Nguyen AT, Albert ND, Kahan PH, Mikos AG, Kontoyiannis DP, and Eisenhoffer GT. EGF-mediated suppression of cell extrusion during mucosal damage attenuates opportunistic fungal invasion. Cell Rep. 2021 Mar 23;34(12):108896. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.108896. PMID: 33761358.

Cantu Gutierrez A, Cantu Gutierrez M, Rhyner AM, Ruiz OE, Eisenhoffer GT, Wythe JD. FishNET: An automated relational database for zebrafish colony management. PLoS Biol. 2019 Jun 20;17(6):e3000343. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000343. PMID: 31220074; PMCID: PMC6605666.

Brock CK, Wallin ST, Ruiz OE, Samms KM, Mandal A, Sumner EA, Eisenhoffer GT. Stem cell proliferation is induced by apoptotic bodies from dying cells during epithelial tissue maintenance. Nat Commun. 2019 Mar 5;10(1):1044. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019- 09010-6. PMID: 30837472; PMCID: PMC6400930.

Antounians L, Njock MS, Boudreau E, Herman AM, Rhyner AM, Ruiz OE, Eisenhoffer GT, Medina-Rivera A, Wilson MD, Wythe JD. Dynamic regulation of VEGF-inducible genes by an ERK/ERG/p300 transcriptional network. Development. 2017 Jul 1;144(13):2428-2444. doi: 10.1242/dev.146050. Epub 2017 May 23. PMID: 28536097; PMCID: PMC5536864

Eisenhoffer GT, Slattum G, Ruiz OE, Otsuna H, Bryan CD, Lopez J, Wagner DS, Bonkowsky JL, Chien CB, Dorsky RI, Rosenblatt J. A toolbox to study epidermal cell types in zebrafish. J Cell Sci. 2017 Jan 1;130(1):269-277. doi: 10.1242/jcs.184341. Epub 2016 May 5. PMID: 27149923; PMCID: PMC5394773.  

Ruiz OE, Nikolova LS, Metzstein MM. Drosophila Zpr1 (Zinc Finger Protein 1) Is Required Downstream of Both EGFR and FGFR Signaling in Trachel Subcelullar Lumen Formation. PLOS ONE. 2012 Sept 18.
PMID: 23029159, PMCID: PMC3445489

Chan AC, Drakos SG, Ruiz OE, Smith AC, Ling J, Passi SF, Stratman AN, Davis GE, Metzstein MM, Whitehead KJ, and Li DY. Mutations in 2 distinct genetic pathways result in cerebral cavernous malformations in mice. Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2011 May 1.

Committee Service/Offices Held

COSE Research Committee Member

Member of Health Professions Advisory Committee

Faculty Sponsor Alpha Epsilon Delta-Health Pre-Professional Honors Society

Faculty Sponsor Pre-Physician’s Assistant Society

Awards and Honors

2022 NightSea/EMS Key Award Recipient
2019 Winner Science Art Calendar contest from The Node (Company of Developmental Biologists)
2018 Winner Presenter Travel Award for the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS)
2017 Winner Postdoctoral Travel Award for the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS)

2016 Winner Nikon Small World Microphotography Contest
2016 Winner Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology BioArt Competition

Previous Academic/Professional Positions

Staff Scientist
Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX)
Laboratory of Dr. Joshua Wythe
Studying arteriovenous malformations in the brain of developing Zebrafish

Senior Research Scientist
MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX)
Laboratory of Dr. George Eisenhoffer
Studying turnover in the epithelia of developing Zebrafish

Postdoctoral Researcher
Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (Oerias, Portugal)
Laboratory of Dr. Luis Teixeira
Studying host-microorganism interactions in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster


Dr. Ruiz loves traveling around the world with his family.  His main hobbies include all types of photography but especially using microscopes to create ScienceArt. Additionally, Dr. Ruiz enjoys reading science fiction and watching football in the fall.  Dr. Ruiz is a firm believer that the Monday after the Super Bowl should be a national holiday.