Environmental epidemiology; global health; health effects of mixtures; toxic metals and child development; nutrient-metal interactions; dietary predictors of toxicant exposure.
I’m fascinated by several questions in the field of environmental epidemiology. First, environmental exposures do not occur in isolation. Most often, humans are exposed to multiple chemicals so over time my research has evolved from studying lead to studying multiple metals. Now, I am interested in exposures even more broadly, increasingly incorporating measures of pesticide exposure or air pollution, to understand the effects of the totality of such exposures on children's health. Second, environmental exposures occur in a broader context, whether it be family, school or community. As children grow up in these social environments, I am interested in understanding how they intersect and interact with chemical exposures to affect child development. Third, environmental exposures interact with underlying biological vulnerabilities, such as genetic risks or nutritional deficiencies. Understanding these interactions, particularly with nutritional factors, and whether we can use them to prevent or improve the effects of environmental exposures on children's health has been an important driver behind my research.
I work predominantly in international settings, with my primary research site being located in Montevideo, Uruguay. Together with colleagues and excellent research team from the Catholic University of Uruguay and the University of the Republic of Uruguay, I have been developing a research program in pediatric environmental epidemiology since 2006. We are conducting a longitudinal study called Salud Ambiental Montevideo (SAM), to understand the cognitive and behavioral effects of low-level exposure to multiple chemicals in school children.