The Global Team


Maria Elena Ruiz, PhD, RN, FNP-BC

Dr. Maria Elena Ruiz is Director of International Scholarly Activities and Coordinator for the Latin America-Cuba programs and Adjunct Assistant Professor with the School of Nursing.

She is an Affiliate Faculty with the Latin American Institute and Chicano Studies Research Center (Associate Director from 2010-2012).

Dr. Ruiz received her Diploma in Nursing from the LAC+USC School of Nursing, as well as a Bachelors and Masters degree and Family Nurse Practitioner certificate from UCSF, along with a minor in Cross Cultural Health Care   Dr. Ruiz earned a doctorate in Sociology from the University of Southern California, with a focus on medical sociology and social epidemiology.  She also completed
Prior to joining UCLA, Dr. Ruiz taught at USC, and at the Oregon Health and Sciences University, where she also completed a 2-year program in Clinical Research Trials.  Her clinical and teaching is centered on global public health issues and primary care, with a specific focus on vulnerable populations in underserved urban and rural communities.

Dr. Ruiz has over 25 years experience as a teacher, clinician, and researcher.
Her research and teaching integrates a multidisciplinary approach, interweaving nursing, medicine, language/culture, and the behavioral sciences.  She is internationally recognized for her Community Based Participatory Research focus, including the changing face of familismo, aging, and caregiving issues, homelessness, violence and farmworkers, and issues faced by Hispanic nurses.   She has received several awards for her Spanish language/Latino culture programs, research on aging minorities (her multidisciplinary dissertation on Asian and Latino elders received an award from APHA), her clinical work in high risk communities, her teaching, and mentoring of underrepresented students.  Most recently, Dr. Ruiz is well recognized for her national and international work in Mexico and Cuba.

You may contact Dr. Ruiz for information on the Latin America-Cuba programs and other for international activities: