MD Candidate (2013)
University of Puerto Rico
School of Medicine, San Juan, P.R.
cedricpluguez@gmail.com
(787) 688-7601

Research Interests

My research takes into account the health effects of airborne particulate matter (PM) at the clinical level as it relates to the environment. Of important relevance to our Caribbean atmospheric setting is the presence of winds carrying distant particulate matter from Africa in distinct seasons throughout the year. These events that we refer to as Saharan Dust Episodes or African Dust Storms are partially responsible for introducing significant air pollution as airborne particle load to our nearby environment and exacerbating systemic conditions whose etiology we aim to study. While it is locally well known that Saharan dust episodes are associated with increased incidence of diseases of the lung and heart, we lack scientific evidence to support this hypothesis, particularly in Puerto Rico. Several models have been proposed to evaluate mechanisms for systemic pathology involving PM and it has been accepted that the metallic components of air pollution are greatly responsible for inducing Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) formation that generate pro-inflammatory cytokines, but are also capable of causing direct cytotoxicity. These mediators of inflammation and cellular injury are held responsible for inducing acute exacerbations of cardio-pulmonary diseases in people who have genetic predisposition to these effects. At the Center for Environmental and Toxicological Research we are interested in identifying and studying gene expression as it is affected by environmental pollutants to increase the incidence of diseases that affect the Puerto Rican population.

I am currently investigating hospitalizations for cardiovascular events such as: cardiac arrhythmias, ischemic injury, cardiac failure and hypertension extracted from the database of the Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration which covers 40% of the Puerto Rican population, or close to 1.5 million people with government sponsored health insurance. Quantitative and semi-quantitative data of Saharan Dust Episodes is also ascertained by: Air mass trajectory models using HYSPLIT from NOAA, modeled dust concentrations from NAAPS, daily data on the concentration of particulate matter from the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board and daily satellite imagery (TOMS/MODIS/AVHRR) from NASA and NOAA. Data is analyzed to yield association of variables, while developing models to study direct cytotoxicity of particulate matter to: cardiac myocytes, cardiac conducting system cells and endothelial cells. Further studies will aim on doing the same statistical analysis towards lung diseases with the incorporation of our lab team data on lung cell cytotoxicity assays using BEAS-2B immortalized bronchial cells.

Present Appointment

University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus, San Juan, PR — 2009 – present
Medical Student Third Year (MD anticipated 2013)

Research Experience

University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus, Department of Toxicology — 2011 – present
Braulio D. Jimenez, PhD, “Association of increased incidence of acute cardiovascular events in Puerto Rico and Saharan dust episodes from 2005-2008”

University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus, Department of Toxicology — 2008 – 2009
Braulio D. Jimenez, PhD, “Decreased viability in epithelial human lung cells (BEAS-2B) after in vitro exposure to airborne particulate matter in Puerto Rico during volcanic eruption events of Soufrière Hills in Montserrat mediated by antimony (Sb)”

University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Department of Biology, PR — 2004 – 2005
Maria G. Dominguez-Bello, PhD, “Innate immunity expression of oral human lysozyme to indigenous and foreign microbiota”

Poster Presentations

Pluguez-Turull, CW, Jimenez, BD. (2010) Decreased viability in human lung cells (BEAS-2B) exposed to airborne particulate matter in Puerto Rico during volcanic eruption events of Soufriere Hills in Montserrat mediated by antimony (Sb). First Annual Research Symposium Puerto Rico Medical Students Association, San Juan, PR.

Pluguez-Turull, CW, Jimenez, BD. (2009) Decreased viability in human lung cells (BEAS-2B) exposed to airborne particulate matter in Puerto Rico during volcanic eruption events of Soufriere Hills in Montserrat mediated by antimony (Sb). XVII Annual Assembly of Honor Program College Associations of Puerto Rico, Ponce, PR.

Hobbies and Interests

International culinary arts, photography, activities coordination, art expos, travel, foreign cultures, choral music, P9