The Shuar Health and Life History Project (SHLHP) is an interdisciplinary collaborative research effort that brings together U.S. scientists, Ecuadorian health providers, and Shuar colleagues and participants. The project is co-directed by Drs. Josh Snodgrass (University of Oregon), Sam Urlacher (Baylor University), Felicia Madimenos (CUNY-Queens College), and Melissa Liebert (Northern Arizona University). The project was founded in 2005 by Dr. Larry Sugiyama (University of Oregon), who is a senior researcher on the project team. The other senior personnel are Drs. Dorsa Amir (Boston College), Aaron Blackwell (Washington State University), Rick Bribiescas (Yale University), Tara Cepon-Robins (University of Colorado-Colorado Springs), and Theresa Gildner (Dartmouth).
A primary focus of the SHLHP is to investigate the impact of economic development on health and well-being of the Shuar, an Indigenous population from the Morona-Santiago region of Amazonian Ecuador. Traditionally forager-horticulturalists, Shuar currently experience a wide range of market integration and related lifeway transitions, which provides an important opportunity for understanding how economic, social, and dietary changes affect health and well-being in the developing world.
The SHLHP has three main goals. First, to investigate how cultural and economic changes in the region affect Shuar health, including growth and nutritional status among children, skeletal health and osteoporosis risk, physical and psychosocial stress, the burden of chronic conditions such as obesity and cardiovascular disease, and the prevalence of infectious and parasitic diseases. Second, to use integrative, evolutionary approaches and biomarker methods to examine trade-offs between competing physiological demands (e.g., maintenance, immune function, physical activity, growth, and reproduction) and to use this information to better understand health across the life course. Finally, and importantly, to provide health information to participants and community partners to assist in local health efforts and to improve the well-being of the Shuar.