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Headshot of Gabriela de la Cruz
Gabriela de la Cruz
Director, Pathology Services Core
Winner: 2024 Spring Core Staff Recognition Award: Performance Excellence

In May 2024, Gabriela (Gaby) de la Cruz, director of the Pathology Services Core, was awarded a Core Facility Staff Recognition Award in the area of Performance Excellence. Gaby’s nominators spoke highly of the way she led her new team through the transitions involved with a core merger while ensuring the staff she supervised received the training and support needed to be successful. Her mentorship skills were highlighted multiple times and evidenced by a poster award at a national conference won by one of her mentees. Additionally, Gaby’s nominators highlighted how forward-thinking she is to ensure the long-term stability and success of the core. Her identification, navigation and implementation of multiple new technologies and equipment needs, including AI histology software, new spatial biology technology, as well as routine upgrades and replacements has involved navigating and searching for external instrumentation grants and learning valuable grant writing skills—which are paying off, as demonstrated by the award of a North Carolina Biotechnology Grant this spring. We sat down with Gaby to ask her a few questions!


How did you get into the field of histopathology?

I was working as an intern in a primate conservancy and one of the monkeys passed away so our Primatologist had to call a Veterinary Pathologist to do a necropsy and submit the tissues for further investigation. We all looked at the slides together and it was so interesting because they were able to determine what was wrong with the animal and it ended up being a parasite that could infect the rest of the colony, they were able to save dozens of animals with the finding. I had no idea what histology or pathology really were, but I was hooked on how big of an impact histopathology could make on so many lives.


What is your favorite part of working in your core? What does your average day look like? 

Working with such an amazing group of people, being part of interesting research, and getting to learn new things from brilliant minds. An average day is lots and lots of meetings, emails, tissues, slides, and blocks! Great conversations with interesting people, fighting with Outlook, Excel and iLab, laughs with the PSC team, and then more blocks and slides!


What is challenging about working in a core facility?

Not being able to say “yes” to everything everyone needs or wants sometimes, it is so difficult.


Who inspires you (alive or deceased)?

My mom, she’s a renaissance woman and can truly do it all. Growing up she would always tell me (in Spanish): “Si vas hacer algo, hazlo bien o no lo hagas.” [If you are going to do something, do it well or don’t do it at all.] To this day, she still likes to quote that, and it still holds true!

“Si vas hacer algo, hazlo bien o no lo hagas.”

[If you are going to do something, do it well or don’t do it at all.]

What is something you’re really good at?

Taking lots and lots of notes.

Something you’re really bad at?

Remembering things without the notes!


What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Reading/listening to books, going to metal/rock concerts, playing Dungeons & Dragons and board games, walking in nature, saying hi to random puppies, attending conventions and cosplaying, watching sci-fi/fantasy shows and anime, oh and ice cream!