Tackling Cancer and Diabetes in Mexico and Mesoamerica through Collaboration and Research


2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Mission Hall, Room 2500

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) have become of increasing relevance to the Latin American context, emerging as a significant public health challenge to the region, and at the same time, presenting an area of opportunity for researchers and institutions to build on existing research capacity.  The National Cancer Institute is funding the planning for the development of the Mesoamerican Center for Population Health Research on Non-Communicable Disease. This initiative is part of an effort to strengthen research capacity in low- and middle-income countries that leverages local know-how to address research, training, and policy needs in order to lower the burden of NCDs in the region. Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health (INSP) is leading this effort by coordinating a partnership with institutions in Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico as well as with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. INSP has demonstrated leadership in the field of NCDs having spearheaded the first large-scale cancer cohort study in Latin America (Mexican Teacher’s Cohort). Through its partnership with Mexican educational system, INSP was able to collect comprehensive baseline information on lifestyle and medical conditions on 115,315 female teachers distributed across a culturally and economically diverse 12 state region in Mexico. For the past 10 years, the MTC has maintained a high follow-up rate, including effective mortality follow-up, and has provided opportunities to study cardiometabolic disease, breast cancer risk, and more recently mental health. This seminar will describe how the Mesoamerican Center for Population Health Research on Non-Communicable Disease seeks to develop locally and scientifically relevant cancer and diabetes research programs, strengthen research capacity building efforts, and develop mechanisms to share existing research infrastructure and support. The MTC will be presented as an example of a shared resource within the Center that allows for etiologic research to inform public policy decisions, the training of future public health leaders, and a strong foundation for collaborative scientific work.

Martin Lajous, MD, ScD

Martin Lajous is Adjunct Professor of Global Health and Population, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.