Saturday, August 19, 2006


Montelimar was once the seaside retreat of former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. He built his house on a bluff high above the Pacific ocean with a commanding view of the wide sandy beach below. After the revolution the Sandinistas took over the property, and they invited party loyalists to enjoy the pleasures of Somoza's beachfront home.

Today Montelimar is an all inclusive resort owned and operated by a Spanish hotel franchise. They've got hundreds of hotel rooms, a wraparound pool (with poolside bar in the middle), a disco, and everything else one would expect to find at a nice resort.

Montelimar also happens to be the location of the annual Sustainable Sciences Institute retreat. Every year, 15-20 people who are working on the Dengue projects of Berkeley professor Eva Harris spend two days discussing dengue at one of the nicest resorts in all of Nicaragua. The meetings last much of the day and give the laboratory and clinical personnel a chance to interact with one another in a collaborative fashion.

On the second day of the retreat I was asked to give a presentation of the results of my Ultrasound project. So I presented some PowerPoint slides with the my statistical findings, and I stumbled my way through a report (in Spanish) of what I had been working on all summer. It turns out that thickening of the gallbladder wall is very strongly correlated with having dengue hemorrhagic fever. In fact, a thickening of the wall of 5mm corresponds to DHF with an odds ratio of more than 9. The main flaw in my analysis is that we only have 11 patients from last year with DHF, but Eva and the other doctors at the meeting were impressed with the findings and agree that it would be worth writing something up for publication.