Center for Indigenous Health Research

Since 2007, Maya Health Alliance has been a leader in developing practical solutions to improve the quality of medical care in rural and indigenous communities in Guatemala. The Center for Indigenous Health Research (Centro de Investigación en La Salud Indígena) was founded by a multidisciplinary group of researchers at Maya Health Alliance, with the goals of advancing scientific investigations into the health needs of these communities.

Researchers at CISI come from diverse backgrounds, but we share an interest in core themes (noncommunicable diseases, like cancer and diabetes; chronic malnutrition and food security; civil society and the study of “development”; and gender and health). We also share an interest in certain methodological approaches, especially in mixed methods, applied anthropology, and implementation science.


Research leadership

Peter Rohloff, MD PhD. Chief Medical Officer. Interests: noncommunicable chronic diseases, pediatric growth and development, chronic malnutrition, implementation science
Anita Chary, MD PhD. Research Director. Interests: cervical cancer, medical anthropology
Kirsten Austad, MD MPH. Director of Women’s Health. Interests: family planning, cervical cancer, implementation science

Core researchers

Gabriela Montenegro, PhD. Research Scientist. Interests: complementary feeding, child malnutrition, food security
Meghan Farley Webb, PhD. Research Scientist. Interests: food security, migration, medical anthropology
David Flood, MD. Affiliating Researcher. Interests: chronic kidney disease, diabetes, child nutrition
Pablo Garcia, MD. Affiliating Researcher. Interests: chronic kidney disease
Nora King, MD. Affiliating Researcher. Interests: women’s health
Stephen Alajajian, RDN. Research Fellow. Interests: malnutrition, food security
Marcela Colom, MD. Research Fellow. Interests: women’s health
Ana Cordón, MD. Research Fellow. Interests: pediatric nutrition, civil society, social entrepreneurship
Andrea Guzman, RDN. Staff Nutritionist. Interests: malnutrition, food security
Michel Juarez, MD. Research Fellow. Interests: obstetrical continuum of care, neonatal care
Boris Martinez, MD. Research Fellow. Interests: pediatric nutrition, early child development

Research coordinators and assistants

Enma Coyote. Research Coordinator. Interests: midwifery, obstetrical emergency
Eva Tuiz. Research Coordinator. Interests: chronic kidney disease
Magdalena Guarchaj. Research Coordinator. Interests: diabetes
Yolanda Raquec. Research Assistant.
Glenda Gomez. Research Assistant.
Lilian Ajú. Research Assistant.
Damaris Cabrera. Research Assistant.
Ingrid Chicol. Research Assistant.
Marta Quina. Research Assistant.

Projects and Funding

Wearable Sensors for Early Identification of Poor Neurodevelopment in Guatemala (2019-)

Evaluating new technology to detect early developmental delay in infants at risk.

Funding: NIH/NICHD (PI Beth Smith, University of Southern California)

Scaling-up self-management interventions for type 2 diabetes (2018-)

Using an implementation science framework to evaluate the impact of a home-based self management intervention for adults with type 2 diabetes in two health districts in central Guatemala.

Funding: World Diabetes Foundation

Population-based survey of chronic kidney disease (2018-)

Representative, population-based study surveying prevalence and risk factors for traditional and nontraditional chronic kidney disease in adults in rural Guatemala.

Funding: NIH/FIC

Care navigation to improve obstetrical care (2017-)

Using a quality improvement framework and care navigation to improve patient satisfaction and emergency obstetrical referral outcomes.

Funding: Grand Challenges Canada

mHealth technology to support obstetrical care (2015-)

Using smartphones and decision support mHealth applications to support identification and referral of high-risk pregnancies by lay midwives.

Funding: NIH/NICHD (PI Gari Clifford, Emory University)

Trial Registration: NCT02348849

Individualized home-based interventions to improve diet quality and developmental outcomes in stunted children (2015-2017)

Investigating optimal strategies for empowering caregivers and improving nurturing care for infants at risk.

Funding: Grand Challenges Canada

Trial Registration: NCT02509936

Evaluating a Family-based Nutrition and Garden Intervention in Rural Guatemala (2019-)

Investigating integration of home gardening into nutrition interventions to improve growth and diet quality for stunted children.

Funding: American Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition

Trial Registration: NCT03689504

Key Collaborators

Dr. Joaquin Barnoya, Unidad Cardiovascular de Guatemala

Dr. Gari Clifford, Department of Biomedical Informatics, Emory University

Dr. Alejandra Colom, Department of Anthropology, Universidad del Valle de Guatemala

Dr. Meredith Fort, Department of Family Medicine, University of Colorado

Dr. Rachel Hall-Clifford, Department of Anthropology, Agnes Scott College

Dr. Maria del Pilar Grazioso, Department of Psychology, Universidad del Valle de Guatemala

Dr. Carlos Mendoza, Instituto de Nutrición de Centro América y Panamá

Dr. Ann Miller, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Beth Smith, Departament of Physical Therapy, University of Southern California


Public Data Repository

Please contact us if you wish to access any of our publications.








2013 and earlier

Mayan Language Resources

See our philosophy on indigenous languages and additional resources on this topic at another section of our website.

Publications on Mayan languages and health care