About us

IHCAI Foundation is a non-profit organization working for global medical education, the development of health research and for the improvement of health in the communities of Central America and the Caribbean. It aims to provide a continuous and permanent medical education for health care providers and promotes access to health information for health care consumers. IHCAI is devoted to enhance research skills in health care, and is oriented towards the knowledge based solutions health problem.

IHCAI Foundation was originally created to foster international health opportunities for the exchange of knowledge and for transcultural experiences as a part of the medical education curriculum. Currently, IHCAI Foundation is growing exponentially and the original objectives have been extended to different fields in medical, epidemiological, as well as health research and education. However, IHCAI Foundation remains committed to the original goal to include senior medical and health students, as well as young professionals in all its programs.

IHCAI Foundation is very devoted to contribute to reduce the discrimination of minorities in Central America concerning health care access and to reduce the gap between health research in the north and in the south. Also promotes the collaboration of research projects based in the North and the South, as well as to facilitate access to high quality training and modern equipment.

IHCAI Foundation offers clinical clerkships and medical Spanish training programs for residents, medical students, and other health professionals from abroad. The educational program is primary care based and covers mother and child, adolescents, adults and elderly health. The technique of the problem based learning model (PBL/PBI) has been in use since 2000. There are opportunities for students and visiting fellows to actively participate in the problem solving process in the area. Our system places a great emphasis on self-directed learning and uses as system of tutors to assist the student in finding the necessary information to solve clinical and public health problems.

In a world of constant changes IHCAI Foundation imposes the challenge of using new information and communication tools to facilitate the knoledge translation and exchange through the use and promotion of global collaborative networks.

IHCAI Board of Directors

IHCAI Foundation Board of Directors has nine members. Five founders permanent members and four non-permanent are elected every four years.

Contact IHCAI Foundation Board of Directors Secretary at: juntadirectiva@ihcai.org

Dr Tristan
Dr. Mario Tristan
Chairperson and General Director

In Memoriam of Emeritus and Honorary Members

Hugo Behm Rosas MD



Dr. Rosas was a Chilean public health specialist who sought refuge in Costa Rica from the persecution suffered by many under the military dictatorship in Chile in 1973. He worked with various international organizations including the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and Pan American Health Organization. In his strategic participation in the publication “Child mortality in developing countries” of the United Nations (1991), he developed the chapter on analytical framework. In 1992 CELADE (the Population Division of ECLAC), he published “The social inequalities facing death in Latin America” with the collaboration of Government of the Netherlands (Netherlands Organisation for International Cooperation in Higher Education, NUFFIC). His invaluable and untiring contribution as a pioneer in scientific analysis and explanation helped delineate important demographic and health events in the determinants of deep inequalities, especially in terms of infant mortality.

Yuri Baidal

San José de Costa Rica.  2011.

Dr. Hugo Behm Rosas (1913-2011)

Merton Bernfield MD

Merton Bernfield, MD, was a leading cell biologist whose research lead to the discovery of syndecans – molecules that control or influence tissue repair, energy metabolism, tumorigenesis, and immune response development. He also was the Clement A. Smith Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard in Boston, and before that he spent 22 years as a professor for Human Biology and Pediatrics at Stanford University in California. He was director of the Joint Program in Neonatology, the unit responsible for the care, education, and research of newborns at Children’s, Brigham and Women’s, and Beth Israel Deaconess until its dissolution in 1998.

His many honors included Guggenheim and Macy fellowships and distinguished lectureships like the Swedish Zetterstrom Lecture and the Wellcome Visiting Professorship in the Basic Medical Sciences. Bernfield was a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the American Association of Physicians.

Merton Bernfield died on March 18th 2002 of complications from Parkinson’s disease and he is survived by his wife Audrey, who is the director of the Office of Enrichment Programs at Harvard Medical School, and by their three children.

We at the IHCAI Foundation are deeply sorry for the loss of one of our dear friend and for the loss of a prominent scientist. Merton Bernfield MD and his wife Audrey have been our allies, partners, and friends in our aspiration to provide better opportunities for a education and enhanced research skills to young professionals in Costa Rica and Central America. They supported us and gave us positive feedback on our proposals, and we had a strong agreement to put an affirmative action for our countries into place. Our efforts have been oriented towards improving sciences and to open the doors to health and medical education. A great accomplishment of our work was shown when the IHMEC conference was held in San Jose, Costa Rica, in 1998 and its opening statement was ‘Open the doors for health and medical education’

We shared many wonderful times together, talking about sciences and development of the sciences in the Third World. We talked about ideas and projects that we would like to work on in the future, some of them will never be possible to realize, however they will be in our memories forever. These dreams will keep inspiring our work and the mission of the IHCAI Foundation.

Merton leaves us too soon. He was a young man who suddenly felt ill. We met for the last time in November last year at his house in Boston. It was a sad to see such a brilliant man suffering from the effects of the disease. However, he was just as happy as I was to meet again, and unfortunately it was to be our last time together. As it happens very often at that moment I wanted very much to find a healing power for my friend. Merton Bernfield enjoyed Costa Rica and we had the privilege to have him and his wonderful family visit us.

I want to express my personal sympathy to Audrey, her family, colleagues, and friends at Harvard Medical School and in the International community who had the chance to get to know Dr. Bernfield and to share his knowledge and wisdom. This message also includes the sympathy of the entire IHCAI Foundation staff and directors and all of Merton’s and Audrey’s friends in Costa Rica and in all our offices in Central America.

To honor the memory of Merton Bernfield the IHCAI Foundation has established the Annual Merton Bernfield MD. Lecture. It is to be held in San José, Costa Rica for the first time on May 15th, 2003 and will continue to be held every year on the second Thursday in May.

The board of directors of the IHCAI Foundation will select the first lecturer from the international scientific community one year ahead of time. It has created the Merton Bernfield MD Lecture Fund to cover the expenses, to provide the necessary resources to carry out the lecture, and to assure its continuity. The topic of the lecture will be on an issue of health related to the development of the basic medical sciences.

I would like to express again my deepest regrets and sympathy to Audrey and her family.

Mario Tristán

San José de Costa Rica.  2002.

Triptico Berton Bernfield_suavizado
Merton Bernfield MD (1939-2002)