Milena Guerrero Flórez

Research themes
  • Water Resources
  • Health and sanitation
  • Health, nutrition and ecosystems
Research countries
  • China
  • Colombia
Professional experience

2019. Coordinator of The Research, Technological Development and Innovation System- SENNOVA. Amazon Region - Putumayo. Colombia

2018. Researcher assistant. Pharmacogenetic and molecular characterization Lab. Universidad Nacional de Colombia

2017-2018. Invited Lecturer. Department of Biology. Bioinformatics. University of Nariño

2015-2017. Researcher. Coordinator of microbiology. Leader water microbiology Lab. University of Nariño

2015. Researcher. One Thousand Talent Plan. Xining, Qinghai. Government of China. 

2010-2015 Teaching & Researcher. Department of Biology and Medicine. University of Nariño

2008-current. Researcher. Center for Health Studies-CESUN. Pasto-Colombia

2005- Research Assistant. Mycobacteria Lab. National Institute of Health. Bogotá-Colombia


Biologist microbiologist. Universidad de Nariño-Colombia

MSc. Microbiology. Universidad Nacional de Colombia


Microbiology, waterborne and health

Funding institutions

FIAT Panis Foundation

Research affiliation

Center for Development Research- ZEF University of Bonn- Germany

Center for Health Studies - CESUN- University of Nariño- Colombia

Thesis title

Integrative analysis of children undernourishment and infection by Cryptosporidium

Thesis abstract

Malnutrition is a persistent and complex problem on a global scale. Children are the most affected population group, not only in developing but also in developed countries. The global nutrition report 2020 highlights that one in nine people are living in hunger and predicts a dramatic three-fold increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Colombia the prevalence of undernourishment has slightly declined between 2012 and 2016, however, since 2018 this trend has reversed, particularly in the states Guajira, Chocó and Nariño. It was estimated that before the pandemic around 3 million people were living in hunger in Colombia, and that post-pandemic 7 million additional people will slip into food insecurity, meaning that around 20% of Colombians will face food insecurity.

An important mechanism of the persistence of child malnutrition and under-five mortality is the malnutrition-infection cycle. The analysis of the bi-directional relationship between malnutrition and infectious diseases forms the primary focus of this research study. Malnutrition compromises the immune function and consequently increases the incidence, duration and severity of infections. While, more frequent and more severe infections, particularly gastrointestinal infections leading to the deterioration of the nutritional status and consequently to malnutrition.

The protozoa-parasite Cryptosporidium spp. can play a significant role in this malnutrition-infection cycle. It causes a mild (15 days) or severe (30 days) diarrhoea and is particularly prevalent in populations, both due to HIV/AIDS and malnutrition. Cryptosporidium spp. is not cultivable in vitro, and no treatment or vaccination is available. This WBP is zoonotic with more than 40 species described, C. parvum and C. hominis being the most significant for human populations.

Worldwide there is limited evidence on the interaction between Cryptosporidium, malnutrition, and child mortality, mainly due to the lack of detection technology (gold standard) and low surveillance in the public health systems, especially in developing countries. Such situation is also evident in Colombia, where Cryptosporidium is neglected and surveillance of the parasite is not being conducted. For this reason, the prevalence of Cryptosporidium is unknown in Colombia, a knowledge gap this research aims to fill.

Here, we will investigate the linkage between child undernourishment and the Cryptosporidium prevalence, during the ongoing pandemic as well as the interaction with socioeconomic factors. Molecular detection, public data (secondary data) collection and interviews will consider for multivariate analysis. The Dynamic of Cryptosporidium infection in children undernourished regards to diet, sanitary, and environmental aspects will analyse. Finally, the gut ecosystem, the abundance and richness of species, their distribution among children undernourished, and the ecological interaction between Cryptosporidium and pathogens from the human gut are studied. The analysis is addressed by molecular epidemiology tools, ecological analysis, the prevalence of risk and association by PCA analysis. Management recommendations for decision-makers will be generated.

Doctoral research funded by


Cooperation partners

Center for Health Studies- CESUN. University of Nariño-Colombia

Advisor at ZEF

Prof Dr Christian Borgemeister

Dr Timo Falkenberg

There are no publications of this person.

Additionals, Curriculum Vitae
and Downloads

Milena Guerrero Flórez

Junior Researcher

Private website:

Department :
ZEF C: Department of Ecology and Natural Resources Management