Over the last 30 years, tens of thousands of individuals in Central America have died prematurely from chronic kidney disease of undetermined cause (CKDu) - a disease highly prevalent in sugarcane workers and linked to excessive heat exposure and dehydration suffered at work. Dr. Rebekah Lucas is a member of an international team of scientists who have studied a cohort of 700 workers at one of the largest sugarcane mills in Nicaragua, located in one of the regions most affected by CKDu. This study, the Adelante Initiative, is a scientific evaluation of workplace interventions that focus on adequate water and rest in shade together with improved ergonomics, aiming to prevent CKDu among workers while preserving productivity.
Dr. Lucas is also a key team member on a different research project working with the US Army exploring the impact of high temperatures on the body’s ability to effectively use carbohydrates in food during prolonged and strenuous exercise.
Led by Dr. Gareth Wallis, Associate Professor in Exercise Metabolism, the three-year project sees researchers working with the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) to develop nutrition strategies to combat a drop in effective conversion of carbohydrates during the body’s exposure to extreme environments.