Enrique Cifuentes

Principal Research Scientist

Department of Environmental Health

Department of Environmental Health

665 Huntington Avenue
Building 1, 13th Floor
Boston, Massachusetts 02115


Enrique Cifuentes is the Director of the new Children’s Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU, Lake Chapala communities, Mexico) funded by the Commission of Environmental Cooperation (July 2010).

In 2008 in collaboration with colleagues from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Dr. Cifuentes launched, in response to local concerns (‘fish contamination’), an ongoing research study in Lake Chapala that involves pregnant women and their babies. The project focuses on prenatal methylmercury exposure. The study is supported by the Mexican National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT) and the National Institute of Environmental Health (NIEH).

Enrique Cifuentes is also the CO-PI of a four year, NIEH funded, novel program (“Training in children’s environmental health to address chronic diseases in Latin America”, www.insp.mx/paspe) led by the Department of International Health, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in collaboration with the Mexico National Institute of Public Health (NIPH). This training program enrolls cadres of health care professionals from Mexico, Uruguay, Costa Rica and Colombia. The funding covers all program costs, including full scholarships for trainees. In addition, the program provides seed money to open new Children’s Environmental Health Specialty Units (PEHSUs) in Latin America.  With collaboration of the Harvard School of Public Health, this innovative program could be strengthened and expanded to include health professionals from other countries in the region, such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru.

Dr. Cifuentes also recently obtained funds from the Pan American Health Education Foundation (PAHEF) and the Irving J. Selikoff Scholarship to initiate research on the effects of the built environment and related policies on children’s health.

Between the years 2000 and 2004, Dr. Enrique Cifuentes led the WHO Environmental Health Collaborating Center at the National Institute of Public Health in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and the PEHSU in the Children’s Hospital (Cuernavaca, Mexico). As part of that work, he and his colleagues implemented innovative community outreach projects (e.g., health fairs, street theatre and parent-children-teachers school-based activities) to educate the population on locally relevant water and sanitation issues, with special emphasis on water-based diseases such as dengue fever, as well as drinking water disinfection using solar energy (www.sodis.org).  During the same period, he also served as the teaching coordinator of the Masters in Science in Environmental Health program that trained approximately 40 professionals from more than 10 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. As a result of this activity, Dr. Cifuentes established close and very lively links with several institutions throughout the region.

Enrique Cifuentes (MD, University of Mexico) obtained his Masters in Community Medicine and PhD in Epidemiology (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, respectively). His doctoral dissertation focused on the investigation on water reuse in semiarid areas of Mexico (The Mezquital Valley) and was funded by the European Union. The generated evidence provided the basis for the revision of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines for the safe use of reclaimed water and crop irrigation.

Enrique Cifuentes’ background includes 9 years of experience in indigenous villages in Mexico, where he directed a unique primary health care program focused on pregnant women and infants. He published two books on ethnomedicine and poetry.

Dr. Cifuentes has extensively published in all major environmental health journals and contributed to “A Community Guide to Environmental Health”, a volume of the “Where There is No Doctor” series published by The Hesperian Foundation).

Before his arrival to the Harvard School of Public Health Department of Environmental Health, Dr. Cifuentes worked as Adjunct Professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Department of Preventive Medicine in New York City (2008-2010.)

Contact information: ecifuent@hsph.harvard.edu