Dear Friends and Colleagues,
It is with great sadness that we communicate the passing of Dr Paula Gonzalez Maya (1975-2020), after a long and brave battle against lung cancer. After arriving from her native Colombia, she worked as an HPV epidemiologist in Costa Rica for nearly 20 years.
Paula began her research activities in 2001 as part of the Guanacaste Natural History Study and conducted important research on the immune response to HPV, particularly among older women. She participated as an investigator in the Costa Rica HPV Vaccine Trial (2004-present) and was the Costa Rican principal investigator in the ongoing ESCUDDO trial, evaluating alternative schedules for HPV vaccines. She developed strong collaborations with the NCI in the United States and IARC in France, where she spent time as a post-doctoral fellow and a scientist, respectively. During her stay at IARC she contributed actively to protocol development for the ESTAMPA study, investigating triage methods for HPV positive women in Latin America.
Later in Costa Rica, she founded ACIB (Costa Rican Agency for Biomedical Research) and developed a large research group, which continues to conduct ESCUDDO and other studies in collaboration with NCI. Her strong scientific leadership, enthusiasm, kindness and sense of humor will be missed by all of us who shared work and life with her.
Paula passing is a tremendous loss for the future of scientific research in Latin America. She is survived by her loving children Camilo and Catalina, and her parents and brothers.