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Elard Koch, PhD

Chairman, Head of Research

Elard S. Koch, PhD is a senior Epidemiologist at MELISA Institute, based in the city of San Pedro de la Paz, Concepción, Chile.


Dr. Koch completed much of his training as an Epidemiologist and Researcher at the School of Medicine of the University of Chile and became the Head of Research at the Department of Family Medicine. First Koch’s mentor was Dr. Aída Kirschbaum Kasten, a leading immunologist and epidemiologist in infectious diseases with whom he obtained his Master’s of Science Degree. Koch had a strong interest and training in biostatistics and published a series of theory articles on the application of popperian logic models to clinical epidemiology. He won a scholarship to carry out his PhD under the guidance of Dr. Tomás Romero Carvajal cardiologist and professor of the University of San Diego, California. Dr. Romero was his mentor in epidemiology, clinical studies, and the basic science of cardiovascular diseases. Koch performed several investigations on physiology of exercise, high blood pressure, heart rate variability and cardiovascular risk factors, and founded the SFP study (San Francisco Project), a prospective observational cohort of Chilean population followed for 15 years. The SFP study was inspired by the original Framingham heart study and had a remarkable scientific production with numerous publications and awards, in addition to the training of various young researchers in epidemiology.


Dr. Koch continued his postdoctoral training with Dr. John Thorp Jr., Professor of Maternal and Child Health at the Gillings School of Public Health from University of North Carolina, by conducting two large natural population experiments on maternal health determinants in Chile and Mexico.


Strongly drawn to developmental biology and maternal-fetal health, Koch and other scholars founded the MELISA Institute, a biotechnology corporation dedicated to researching ultra-early biomarkers of fetal health, and developing a prenatal therapy for Down Syndrome, a genetic condition caused by trisomy on chromosome 21.

Board of Directors


Cristian Vargas, MD

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Doctor of Medicine from the Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción and Bachelor of Arts in Bioethics from the Ateneo Regina Apostolorum in Rome. He has an extensive career in university teaching spanning more than 14 years, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in areas of health.

In 2015, he received the Human Life Promoters Award from the Rector of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Dr. Ignacio Sánchez.

CEO of MELISA Institute since August 2017 and he also leads our institution's Core Facility.



Mauricio Hernández, MSc

Chief Laboratory Officer (CLO)

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 our 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.



Juan Francisco Stecher, MD

Chief Medical Officer (CMO)

Doctor of Medicine from the Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción, Postgraduate in Obstetrics and Gynecology from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile;  Master's Degree in Orientation and Family Mediation from the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca. Expert in natural methods of fertility regulation from the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Roma.


Ten years of experience in the clinical area of ​​obstetrics and gynecology, especially in natural fertility.


Currently developing the area of ​​Medical Affairs and Clinical Trials at MELISA Institute.


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