Dr. Mercedes Sotos-Prieto is a nutritional epidemiologist trained in Europe and Harvard Chan School of Public Health. Her current research focuses on dietary patterns and cardiovascular diseases, with special interest in translational nutritional epidemiology.
She has ample experience working in randomized control trials. During her PhD she worked the largest Mediterranean randomized controlled trial so far, the PREDIMED (Prevention with Mediterranean diet) study, evaluating the intervention of a Mediterranean Diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil and nuts on the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with special focus on gene-diet interactions.
Her broad international experience in different epidemiological studies specifically in lifestyles, Mediterranean diet and cardiometabolic risk factors provides her with strong understanding of different study designs, as well as multidisciplinary vision, and the ability to easily transition from epidemiological data to public health applications.
During the past two years Mercedes has been actively working with firefighters trying to establish the effectiveness of behavioral change strategies and modify the existing food culture in the fire service to improve health outcomes in the currently ongoing funded “Feeding America’s Bravest: Mediterranean Diet-Based Intervention to change Firefighters’ Eating Habits and Improve Cardiovascular Risk Profiles.” Mercedes had a key role in the development of the nutritional intervention/curricula and the study design as well as coordinating and supervising the recruitment, intervention, data collection, questionnaires processing, writing manuscripts and the development of new research ideas and grant applications (such as the currently funded grant to study biomarkers of dietary compliance in firefighter).
She is also interested in the study of the all-inclusive lifestyle behaviors in diverse populations and its association alone or in combination with cardiometabolic risk factors and genetics. The Healthy Heart Score was developed and validated to calculate the 20-year cardiovascular disease risk based on nine modifiable lifestyles. Currently, she is working in the applicability of the Healthy Heart Score in the clinical setting as a primordial prevention tool.
She had a strong record of publications in high impact journals such as Circulation or a recent accepted manuscript in the New England Journal of Medicine. She investigated how changes in different dietary patterns and other lifestyle factors over time are associated with clinical risk factors, cardiovascular disease and mortality in two large cohorts: Nurse’s Health Study and Health Professional Follow-up Study (more than 100,000 participants followed for more than 30 years). She has also experience working with different populations and the results of her findings are highly relevant for nutrition and public health policy and provide support for stronger policies to be developed to help the general population and specific ethnic groups improve diet quality to prevent cardiovascular disease.
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