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OUR TEAM

MELISA is an integrative biomedical research initiative for human life sciences. Founded under the vision by Dr. Elard Koch, the Institute is currently running a number of research programs in three major areas relevant for human life sciences: Epidemiology & Public Health, Human Reproduction & Biomarkers, and Prenatal Medicine.

MELISA Institute was founded in 2011 as a private scholarly research initiative supported mainly by major philanthropic funding channeled through a non-profit foundation (http://www.fisarchile.org) and some funds by other sources such as standard research grants. Since 2019, the platform MELISA PROTEOMICS & GENOMICS was incorporated for the provision of some technology services for external researchers such as mass spectrometry, proteomics, transcriptomics and bioinformatics.

MELISA is an acronym that stands for Molecular Epidemiology for LIfe Science ReseArch. The research model of MELISA Institute involves the recruitment, support, and participation of other external researchers collaborating in the elaboration of papers to be submitted to reputed scientific journals. In addition, MELISA incorporates a division of communication and public relations allowing more extensive post-publication dissemination of research papers reporting key findings.

Professor ELARD KOCH, PhD

  • Molecular Epidemiologist.
  • Doctorate in biomedical sciences from the University of Chile.
  • Postdoctoral researcher for the Women´s Research Program at the University of North Carolina.
  • Researcher and professor of clinical epidemiology at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Chile for over 15 years.

 
Awards:
 
  • Chilean Foundation of Cardiology Award 2010 Best Research in Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Academic Research Excellence Medal Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile, 2008,  2009, 2010. Henri Nestle Award 2008
  • First place, Original Research Article; Koch E, et al. J Epidemiol Community Health
  • Chilean Society of Cardiology Award 2006, 2008. Best Original Research Article published in Revista Chilena de Cardiología.
  • Fundación Araucaria Award, 2006. Best Scientific Research in Coronary Disease. Fundación Araucaria, San Diego, CA, EUA.

 

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  • Merck Sharp & Dohme Award, Cardiovascular Research 2006
  • Medical Society of Chile, “Dr Ramón Corbalán Melgarejo Award”  2005. Best Original Research Article published in Revista Médica de Chile 2005.
  • Chilean Foundation of Cardiology Award 2004, 2005. Best Research in Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Fundacion Araucaria Award 1999. Best Scientific Research in Coronary Disease. Fundación Araucaria, San Diego, CA, EUA.

 
Most recent publications
 
  • Numerous publications in prestigious biomedical scientific  journals
  • Abortion legislation, maternal healthcare, fertility, female literacy, sanitation, violence against women and maternal deaths: a natural experiment in 32 Mexican states. BMJ Open. 2015;5(2):e006013
  • The Epidemiology of Abortion And Its Prevention in Chile. Issues Law Med. 2015 Spring;30(1):71-85.
  • Impact of Reproductive Laws on Maternal Mortality: The Chilean Natural Experiment. The Linacre Quarterly 2013;80(2):151-160.
  • Women’s Education Level, Maternal Health Facilities, Abortion Legislation and Maternal Deaths: a Natural Experiment in Chile from 1957 to 2007. PloS ONE 2012: 7(5):e36613

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  • Koch E,  Fundamental discrepancies in abortion estimates and abortion-related mortality: A reevaluation of recent studies in Mexico with special reference to the International Classification of Diseases. Int J Women Health 2012;4:613-23.
  • Methodological flaws on abortion estimates for Latin America: authors’ reply to Singh and Bankole]. Ginecol Obstet Mex 2012;80(11):740-7
  • Sobrestimación del aborto inducido en Colombia y otros países latinoamericanos. Ginecol Obstet Mex 2012;80(5):360-372. 7

 
 
 

Cristián Vargas
Bachelor of Medical Surgery from the Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción and Bachelor of Arts in Bioethics from the Ateneo Regina Apostolorum in Rome.
Nowadays, he is the Medical Deputy Director of MELISA Institute. He has held this position since August 2017.
He leads areas such as clinical protocol execution, medical genetics and proteomics services.
He has an extensive career in university teaching spanning more than 14 years, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in areas of health.
In 2010 he received the award Líderes del Sur for excellence and social commitment.
In 2015, he received the Human Life Promoters Award from the Rector of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Dr. Ignacio Sánchez.
 
Contact: cvargas@melisainstitute.org

Mauricio Hernandez
Biochemist and MSc in Microbiology. Mauricio received his bachelor’s and biochemistry degree in 2008 from the Universidad Austral de Chile. In addition, he received the MSc. degree in Microbiology in 2013 at the same house of studies.
Mr. Hernández has been head of the proteogenomics laboratory since August 2018. Previously, he served as a biochemist in activities related to molecular biology and biomolecules purification at the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences of the Universidad Austral de Chile in 2010. Also as a professor at the Universidad Santo Tomas in the city of Valdivia, Head of subjects in the areas of Chemistry and Microbiology to careers related to the area of health, between 2011 and 2012. He then served as head of the proteomics laboratory of the AUSTRAL center at the Universidad Austral de Chile for 6 years, additionally as professor of proteomics to undergraduate and postgraduate courses in that study house.
Among its activities are the realization of services of protein purification, mass spectrometry, peptide synthesis, among other proteomic services, both to national and international institutions.
 
Contact: mhernandez@melisainstitute.org
 

 

 
Arantxa Escribano
Graduated in Bioethics from the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome and has lived in Switzerland, Mexico, and Argentina, where she currently works.
She is the Public Information Officer at MELISA Institute, In addition, she leads institutional and public relations at Incluyendo México A.C., a civil-society organization with important connections with opinion leaders.
Arantxa is active in the media space in Argentina and writes in the magazine “Sembrar Valores.” She teaches “Leadership in Values” courses in companies, schools. Previously, she led the TV Show “Valor Agregado” on Telered and was a correspondent for Siete 24, where she covered summits and international events around the world.
 
Contact: aescribano@melisainstitute.org

 
 

Profession: Biochemist
Institution: Universidad de Concepción
Functions and interests: Development of Biomarkers related to Mother-Child communication, cell cultures, HPLC chromatography and high performance proteomic analysis of human fluids.
 
Contact: afritz@melisainstitute.org

Profession: Biochemist
Institution: Universidad de Concepción
Functions and interests: Development of Biomarkers related to Mother-Child communication, cell cultures, nucleic acid extraction and Next Generation Sequencing.
 
Contact: falvarez@melisainstitute.org

Profession: Biochemist
Institution: Universidad Austral de Chile
Functions and interests: Development of Biomarkers related to Mother-Child communication, high performance proteomic analysis of human fluids, nucleic acid extraction and Next Generation Sequencing.
 
Contact: psaldivia@melisainstitute.org

 

Profession: Bioinformatics Engineer
Institution: Universidad de Talca
Functions and interests: Analysis and organization of proteomic and genomic data of fluids and human tissues through bioinformatics techniques.
 
Contact: gnourdin@melisainstitute.org

Profession: Laboratory Technician and Blood Bank
Institution: Instituto Profesional Virginio Gómez
Functions and interests: Sample handling and processing (maternal fluids).
 
Contact: econtreras@melisainstitute.org

Profession: Kinesiologist
Institution: Universidad de Chile
Functions and interests: Co-researcher in the area of Maternal Health; search, collection and creation of analytical and epidemiological databases
 
Contact: mbravo@melisainstitute.org
 

Profession: Doctor Specializing in Gynecology and Obstetrics
Institution: Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción- Specialty:  Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Functions and interests: Clinical protocol, down syndrome therapy coordinator, TRIC team researcher
 
Contact: jstecher@melisainstitute.org

Profession:  Matron, Licensed in Obstetrics and Childcare
Institution: Universidad de Concepción
Functions and interests: Clinical Sampling, patient education, entry of clinical information to databases, monitoring of protocol participants.
 
Contact: wgarin@melisainstitute.org

Profession: Nurse, Master in Human Resources and Management Skills
Institution: Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción – Magister: Universidad Andrés Bello.
Functions and interests: Clinical sampling, patient education, entry of clinical information to databases, monitoring of protocol participants.
 
Contact: pbustamante@melisainstitute.org

Profession: Nurse technician
Institution: INACAP
Functions and interests: Recruitment team, clinical sampling.
 
Contact: rabarzua@melisainstitute.org

Profession: MD, MSB.
Institution: Universidad Anahuac. Medical clerkship at The University of Miami School of Medicine – Jackson Health System.
Functions and interests: Medical and basic research, translational medicine and research databases.
 
Contact: shaddad@melisainstitute.org

 

Profession: Sociologist
Institution: Universidad del Salvador, Argentina. 
Functions and interests: Social Epidemiology
 
Contact: mcritto@melisainsitute.org

Profession: Graphic Designer and Visual Communication
Institution: Da Vinci, Primera Escuela de Arte Multimedial. Argentina
Functions and interests: Editorial Design, corporate identity, web and multimedia design.
 
Contact: jirala@melisainstitute.org 

Profession: Technician in Business Administration with a mention in human resources
Institution: Instituto Profesional Valle Central
Functions and interests: Issuance, formalization and execution of quotes and purchase orders, payment providers, among other functions.
 
Contact: pluengo@melisainstitute.org

Profession:  Lawyer
Institution: Universidad de Chile
Functions and interests: Issuance, formalization and execution of quotes and purchase orders, payment providers, among other functions.
 
Contact: vrampoldi@melisainstitute.org

Profession: Accountant Auditor
Institution: Universidad Tecnológica Metropolitana
Functions and interests: Accounting, administrative and tax advice from MELISA Institute
 
Contact: cparraguez@melisainstitute.org