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The Center for Studies of Sensory Impairment, Aging and Metabolism (CeSSIAM), is an independent research center, founded in Guatemala in 1985 for the investigation of health and nutrition in Guatemala. It has been led and directed by Dr. Noel W. Solomons, MD (co-founder) since its founding. The topics of the investigation have evolved with priorities focused on health in Guatemala, changing technological opportunities, and collaborative arrangements with national and international investigators. As Guatemala has the highest prevalence of stunting in the Western Hemisphere, with a rate of 46.5% in children under-five-years-old in the 2014-15 stated by the national Demographic and Health Survey, child growth has become prominent.      

During the year 2012, grants from Sight and Life and the Nestle Foundation for the Study of Problems of Nutrition in the World financed a project to describe the patterns of early child feeding in the urban area of the city of Quetzaltenango located in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. It was known colloquially as the Xela Babies Project, and represented a collaboration between CeSSIAM and the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam. The Principal Investigators for the respective institutions were Marieke Vossenaar, PhD and Colleen M. Doak, PhD. A prolitic total of ten scientific articles have been published from the findings in Xela Babies, and several others are pending submission for publication. Notably, a total of three Dutch students (Ilse van Beusekom; Marieke Reuring; Robine E. van der Starre) and two North American students (Jeniece Alvey; Linda Oyesiku) became co-authors of the derivative publications.

The presence of exchange-students, as well as local students, has been a constant feature of CeSSIAM during the 31 years of its existence, but it has recently become both an increasing source of research productivity and also has come under increasing demand from the growing programs of global health in developed countries. For instance, CeSSIAM has entertained six exchange-students who conducted projects in one or more of the supervised sites in the interior of the Republic of Guatemala: Quetzaltenango; Sololá; and Antigua Guatemala in the same year. Four abstracts for Experimental Biology 2017 in Chicago are first-authored by students from 2016 (Alana Platte; Kimberly Shiu (x2); Mallika Gopal) and two by students from earlier years (Heike Rolker; Hilary Wren). 

Alejandra Zamora is the candidate for the assistance in the funding of this proposal. She first became part of the CeSSIAM family as a paid intern, in June 2016, a month following her graduateion as a nutritionist-dietician ffrom the Univeridad Rafael Landivar. She was a field assistant interviewing mothers and applying the sensory testing in the work presented in the EB abstract of Alana Platte. She latter joined – and is currently in the phase of completion of – a project examining the relationship of hepcidin, other inflammatory biomarkers and iron status in lean and obese women, in Sololá. This has allowed her to prepare for submission to the 21st International Congress on Nutrition:

Alejandra Zamora, Claudia Arriaga, Monica Orozco, and Noel W. Solomons. Association of relative body weight (body mass index, BMI) and fatness (percent body-weight as fat, %BF) in a convenience sample of adult women in the Sololá Province of Guatemala. (For submission to the 21st International Congress on Nutrition, Buenos Aires, October 2017.