- Licenciado, Biology, Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia S.J.B., Argentina
- MA, Anthropology, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
- PhD, Anthropology and School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
- Post-doctoral Fellow, Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH, USA
I joined the Faculty of Health Sciences in 2008. I obtained my first degree in Biology in my native country, Argentina, from the University of Patagonia. For my doctoral studies I moved to the USA, where I obtained a Ph.D. in Anthropology (Biological) and Natural Resources and Environment (Ecology) from The University of Michigan. At the same University, I received training from the Reproductive Sciences Program and was a Pre-doctoral Fellow at the Institute for Social Research. Additionally, I am an alumnus from the LIFE Program (“Life Course: Evolutionary and Ontogenetic Dynamics)” from the International Max Planck Research School (Berlin, Germany). I received post-doctoral training in the Epidemiology Branch of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH-USA).
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My academic interests center on the effects of stress—broadly defined as any challenge that activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis —on growth, development and health throughout the human life course. I attempt to study each one of these subjects from a variety of angles, so that the emerging picture is as complete as possible. To achieve this goal, I draw on my interdisciplinary background in physiology, ecology, anthropology and epidemiology and collaborate with colleagues from a broad range of complementary fields.
Currently, my investigations are focused on assessing the effects that stress has on female reproduction, and early pregnancy. One of my projects examines the effects that environmental, health and social stressors exert on reproductive function in a group of Mayan women in the highlands of Guatemala. This society lives under subsistence conditions with intervals of restricted food supply, associated threats of infectious diseases and other seasonal, psychological, and environmental stressors. The first set of results suggests that stress, even when not acute, can seriously affect women's reproductive function. Specifically, increased cortisol levels appear to be associated with deleterious effects on ovulatory function and an increase in the risk of miscarriage. We will now evaluate the generalizability of these original findings by testing our hypothesis on urine samples from a population of women from an industrialized nation. In a related project, we are evaluating the effects that endocrine disruptors other than stress, including bisphenol A and phthalates, may have on early pregnancy and on women's reproductive axis.
I am currently designing a project that will explore the effects that stress may have on the time elapsed between births or inter-birth intervals (IBI) and the hormonal characteristics of the transition between amenorrhea (absence of menstrual cycles after parturition, related to breastfeeding) and resumption of eumenorrhea (regular menstrual cycles). Inter-birth intervals are, in turn, an important determinant of maternal and child health. Thus, our results will be particularly relevant to issues related to the health of the most vulnerable women, including those with the lowest degree of education, poor access to health care, and who are less likely to use modern contraceptives.
Human biology, Human Ecology and Health, Human Reproduction, Human Life History: Health and Disease across the Lifespan
Publications and Activities
- Early interventions to support trajectories for healthy life in India
- Human Behaviour and Evolution Society Conference
- Development of a mouse model of obesity-driven placenta dysfunction
- Reproductive health and fertility diagnosis
- Incorporating evolutionary theory into the study of developmental origins of health and disease
- The impact of home visitation intervention on biological outcomes in infants exposed to psychosocial adversity