I am a physician-scientist working at the intersection of public health, physical activity epidemiology, and health policy research. I have focused my career on three main areas: (1) Studies across the lifespan among underserved populations in Latin America and other low and middle-income country settings, to study the prevalence, determinants and correlates of physical activity and healthy lifestyle in children and adults, and morbidity and mortality in children, childhood obesity and malnutrition; (2) Studies to establish, strengthen and sustain global surveillance systems of physical activity levels, research capacity, and physical activity policy, to contribute to effective and equitable global physical activity promotion efforts; and, (3) Studies using a broad syndemic approach to understand the relation between physical activity promotion, non-communicable disease prevention, and infectious disease crises (e.g., COVID-19 pandemic) and with this, find synergistic solutions to all. I have been interested in working with multidisciplinary groups to use rigorous epidemiological methods and meta-research for documenting, understanding, and improving research, surveillance and policy capacity, and advocacy for physical inactivity, NCDs, obesity, and malnutrition prevention. Therefore, my research interests are epidemiology, public health surveillance, physical activity epidemiology, health policy research, preventive medicine, global public health capacity for disease prevention and, translation research especially in Latin America.


Medical Doctor (MD)
Universidad de los Andes, Colombia
Master in Public Health (MPH)
Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Epidemiology
Federal University of Pelotas, Pelotas, Brazil

Areas of Interest

Research Interests

Cardiovascular and Chronic Diseases
Global Health
Health Equity
Infectious Disease
Physical Activity and Nutrition
Social Determinants of Health
Health Education/Behavioral Sciences
Behavioral/Mental Health


  1. Ramírez Varela A, Touchton M, Miranda J, Mejía Grueso J, Laajaj R, Carrasquilla G, Vives M, Vesga Gaviria AM, Ortiz Hoyos AM, Vanegas Duarte EO, Velásquez Morales A, Velasco Rodríguez N, Restrepo Restrepo S. Assessing Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic in four South American countries: Agenda for the Future. Frontiers in Public Health, Page Range: 1–13, Nov 2023 DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2023.1274737 
  2. Rodrigues Moreira L, Blumenberg C, Caicedo Velasquez BE, Ewerling F, Balandrán A, Vidaletti LP, Ramírez Varela A, Hellwig F, Gomez Ponce de Leon R, Barros A, Freitas Silveira M, Cesar Wehrmeister C. The Role of Gender Inequality and Health Expenditure on the Coverage of Demand for Family Planning Satisfied by Modern Contraceptives: An Analysis of 14 LAC Countries. The Lancet Regional Health – Americas. 16 Pages Posted: 1 August 2022. DOI:
  3. Ramírez Varela A, Contreras-Arrieta S, Tamayo-Cabeza G, Salas Zapata L, Caballero-Díaz Y, Hernández Florez LJ, Patiño Benavidez A, Laajaj R, De la Hoz F, Buitrago Gutierrez G, Restrepo S, Behrentz E. Risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 transmission in close contacts of adults at high risk of infection due to occupation: results from the contact tracing strategy of the CoVIDA epidemiological surveillance study in Bogotá, Colombia, in 2020–2021. BMJ Open. 2022 Dec 23;12(12): e062487.DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-062487.
  4. Ramírez Varela A, Hallal PC, Mejía Grueso J, Pedišić Z, Salvo D, Nguyen A, Klepac B, Bauman A, Michael Pratt.  “Status and trends of physical activity surveillance, policy, and research in 164 countries: findings from the Global Observatory for Physical Activity-GoPA! 2015 and 2020 surveys”. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, Human Kinetics (2022). First Published Online: 19 Dec 2022. Page Range: 1–17. DOI:
  5. Vargas Muñoz SM, De Vivero Haddad S, Beltran AM, Bonilla Gonzalez C, Naranjo Vanegas M, Moreno SM, Rueda-Guevara P, Barrera P, Piñeros JG, Mejía LM, Mesa ML, Restrepo S, Baquero, Ramírez Varela A. Incidence, etiology, sociodemographic and clinical characterization of acute respiratory failure in pediatric patients at a high-altitude city: A multicenter cohort study. Frontiers in Pediatrics. 10:1009375. (2022) DOI: 10.3389/fped.2022.1009375
  6. Ramírez Varela A, Gurruchaga, A.P., Restrepo, S.R. et al. (2022). Effectiveness and adherence to closed face shields in the prevention of COVID-19 transmission: a non-inferiority randomized controlled trial in a middle-income setting (COVPROSHIELD). Trials 23, 698 DOI:
  7. Caballero N, Quintero J, Nieto Maria A, Suarez-Zamora D, Moreno S, Camila Remolina I, Duran D, Vega D, Rodriguez-Urrego P, Gómez CP, Rojas Diana P, Ramírez Varela A, Martínez-Nieto Os, Baldion-Elorza AM, Hernández LJ. (2022) Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection and SARS-CoV-2-specific antibody detection among healthcare workers and hospital staff of a university hospital in Colombia. International Journal of Infectious Diseases. Pages 150-156. V. 3. DOI:
  8. Ramírez Varela A, Moreno-Lopez S, Contreras‐Arrieta S, Tamayo-Cabeza G, Restrepo-Restrepo S, Sarmiento-Barbieri I, et al. (2022).  Prediction of SARS-CoV-2 Infection With a Symptoms-Based Model to Aid Public Health Decision Making in Latin America and other Low and Middle Income Settings. Pag 1-34 Preventive Medicine Reports, 27, 101798 DOI:
  9. Ramírez Varela A, Hernandez Florez LJ, Tamayo Cabeza G, Contreras Arrieta S, Restrepo Restrepo S, Laajaj R, Buitrago Gutierrez G et (2021). Factors Associated with SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Bogotá, Colombia: Results from a Large Epidemiological Surveillance Study. The Lancet Regional Health-Americas, 2, 100048. DOI:
  10. Laajaj R, De Los Rios C, Sarmiento-Barbieri I, Aristizabal D, Behrentz E, Bernal R, Buitrago G, Buitrago Z, de la Hoz F, de la Hoz A, Hernández L.J, León L, Moyano D, Osorio E, Ramírez Varela A et (2021). COVID-19 spread, detection, and dynamics in Bogota, Colombia, Nature Communications, 12(1), 1-8. DOI:
  11. Castro Prieto P, Trujillo Ramírez S, Holguin J, Pineda M, Tomasi S, Ramírez Varela A (2021).  Reduction of chronic malnutrition for infants in Bogotá, Colombia. BMC Public Health, 21(1) 1-12 DOI: