I have been lucky to gain unique insights into global health challenges by working with this cohort in Santiago, Chile. Chile underwent extremely rapid economic growth when this cohort was recruited at infancy, changing from a low- to high- income country in this time. This rapid progression brought about analogous epidemiological changes with regards to poorer nutrition, sedentary lifestyle, and increased cardiometabolic morbidity and mortality. Studying cardiometabolic risk and its downstream effects in this cohort presents a great opportunity to understand the influence of environmental changes on chronic disease risk in countries moving from low to high income.
I chose to focus on the neurocognitive effects of increased metabolic risk in adolescents. The abstract for my project was presented at the national meeting of Pediatric Academic Societies 2017 and I am currently wrapping up the manuscript with coauthors. The team at INTA continues to see participants and collect data for the 21-year wave of this study, and my next steps include continuing longitudinal analyses of the effects of metabolic risk on neurocognitive function in this cohort.
Aside from getting to really know INTA and this cohort very well, getting to spend a full three months in Santiago, Chile really allowed me to get to know the city and the people I am close to. I spent a lot of time with my host and made good friends in Santiago. We went on amazing trips to Valparaiso, Punta de Choros, Valle del Elqui, Cajon del Maipo, and had great weekends around the city.
The shock of coming back didn’t really hit me until my host messaged me two months after I’d left saying she had made the family chicken curry recipe I showed her! I lived in Santiago, Chile longer than I lived anywhere else over the last year, and it’s left its mark on me.
I took the opportunity to travel in South America before I returned to start second year. I visited the south of Chile in Pucón, spent a few days in the Atacama desert, hiked around salt flats, lakes, and mountains around Uyuni, Bolivia, biked the Calle de la Muerte in La Paz, swam in Lake Titicaca, and hiked in to Macchu Picchu.
After many overnight buses and miles on my hiking boots, I got in to San Diego the Sunday before school started and have hit the ground running! Here’s to continued collaborations with INTA and kicking off another year of school!