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International Health


Luz Caviedes, MHS, GDEC ‘08

by Mirko Zimic, PhD ‘08, MHS ‘02

Luz Caviedes and friends

Luz Caviedes, far right., with friends and colleagues.
From left to right: Yeny Tinoco, IH PhD candidate,
Yessika Mashinski, MHS ‘11, and Maritza Calderon.

With great sadness we received the news that our friend, alumna, and co-worker, Luz Caviedes, passed away on November 4, 2012.

In 2000, Luz—or Lucy, as her friends called her—made her most important professional contribution to the world. Lucy and her team working at the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (LID-UPCH), under the supervision of Professor Robert Gilman, developed a rapid method of diagnosing tuberculosis in sputum, called Microscopic Observation Drug Susceptibility, or MODS. MODS allows the diagnosis of TB and the determination of multi-drug resistance in only 7 to 10 days at a very low cost. In 2006 this work was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Many studies and publications came out of this original research, demonstrating the importance of the method. Until a few months ago, Lucy traveled throughout the world training people how to use the MODS diagnostic technique.

In 2008, Lucy received an MHS in International Health, Global Disease Epidemiology and Control. When she returned to Peru, Lucy kept working on various projects, including one developing a faster method of diagnosing TB’s resistance to pyrazinamide.

Earlier this year Lucy traveled to Trujillo, Peru, to help build capacity at the new Tuberculosis Center at the Regional Hospital in Trujillo, which will bear her name: the "Luz Caviedes" National Center for Excellence in Tuberculosis, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Alejandro Rodriguez, founder and director of the Center. While it is a pity she won’t be present at the dedication, she at least knew about it. I can honestly attest that she was very happy when I told her about the naming just a few days before she passed away.

The passing of Lucy is a loss for the scientific community and the community worldwide that is fighting against tuberculosis. It is a great loss for Peru and for all the research she was involved in at UPCH. It is an irreplaceable loss for all of her friends and family who will always remember her. May Lucy’s strength and work inspire and guide us forever.