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Guatemala - Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama

Map of Guatemala.

Center of Excellence

Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP)
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Principal Investigator: Manuel Ramirez-Zea, M.D., Ph.D.

Center of Excellence Activity Sites

Mesoamerica and the Caribbean, which includes the following areas:

  • Southern Mexico
  • Central America (Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama)
  • Dominican Republic

Developed Country Partner

Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Principal Investigator: Benjamin Caballero, M.D., Ph.D.


Young girl

In the Mesoamerican region, chronic noncommunicable diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases (CVD), hold first place in mortality rates compared to other causes of death. CVD are the main cause of death in all countries, with the exception of Guatemala. However, when cancer and CVD are taken together, these two groups of diseases are the most prevalent causes of death in all countries, with rates higher than those found for communicable diseases and external causes. Belize, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaragua have CVD mortality rates (adjusted by age and population size) equal to or greater than those reported in the United States.


To reduce the burden of CVD in Mesoamerica by establishing a Center of Excellence to carry out research, training, and capacity-building for prevention and management of CVD and related risk factors.

Research Activities

The underlying theme of the three core studies is the integration of CVD prevention and management, targeting recognized knowledge gaps in the region, with an emphasis on the Guatemalan villagesynergy and interdependence among each component of the conceptual framework and providing the grounds for hands-on mentoring and training of junior investigators.

The objectives of the core studies are:

  • Obtain baseline information for the planning of a family-based cohort study for surveillance of intermediate risk factors for CVD in Mesoamerica among school-age children and their parents.
  • Assess cardiovascular status and the most feasible environmental changes that are socially and culturally acceptable to improve lifestyle behaviors for children living in poor urban settings of Guatemala.
  • Adapt and validate an intervention model for CVD prevention in patients with diabetes and high blood pressure, which could be implemented in primary health care centers of Costa Rica (San JosÚ) and Southern Mexico (Chiapas).


  • Training is embedded into a theoretical framework that enhances research capacity through the development and provision of tools, training for building skills, strengthening of infrastructure, and improvement of institutional structure and systems. The focus will be on training of graduate students and junior investigators through short training courses, consultation from internationally recognized researchers on CVD, and master's- and doctoral-level training.
  • An infrastructure and a system will be built for junior staff to carry out their research. Activities include working group meetings, cross sectional/discipline meetings, mentorship, participation in the core studies, online access to facilitate distance learning, dissertation research awards, a regional network of CVD researchers, and direct involvement of the Ministries of Health.

Other Partner Organizations

RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, USA
Principal Investigator: Homero Martinez, M.D., Ph.D.

University of Michigan, School of Public Health, Michigan, USA
Principal Investigator: Eduardo Villamor, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H.

University of Harvard, School of Public Health, Boston, USA
Principal Investigator: Eduardo Villamor, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H.

Local Universities

University of Sciences and Arts of Chiapas, School of Nutrition
Chiapas, Mexico

Research Center in Nutrition and Health, National Institute of Public Health
Cuernavaca, Mexico

University of Belize, Faculty of Nursing, Social Work, and Allied Health
Belmopan, Belize

University of San Carlos of Guatemala, Faculty of Medicine
Guatemala City, Guatemala

University of El Salvador, School of Nutrition
San Salvador, El Salvador

National Autonomous University of Honduras, Graduate Program of Public Health
Tegucigalpa, Honduras

National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, Department of Nutrition
Managua, Nicaragua

University of Costa Rica, School of Nutrition
San JosÚ, Costa Rica

University of Panama, School of Nutrition
Panama City, Panama

Regional Institutions and NGOs

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)
Superior Academic Council of Central America
Central America Network of Schools of Nutrition
Association of Heart Disease Prevention, Guatemala City, Guatemala


The Center of Excellence in Guatemala receives funding from UnitedHealth Group and the NHLBI.

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Last Updated: August 27, 2012

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