He is committed to advance public health functions through the strengthening of public health institutions and systems. His focus is now on the health authority distribution and regulatory capacity in countries and globally. He has worked in the performance of public health functions to confront crisis such as epidemics (as it is now the COVID-19) and disasters. He is currently the Director of the Global Health Policy program at GWU.
His work is on risk factors leading to chronic non-communicable disease – so called commercial determinants -, environmental conditions including toxics and climate change and disasters. Over the last three years he has been working in an initiative for the Sound Management of Chemicals in Mexico, with especial attention to the control of the massive lead exposure in children from traditional artisanal pottery. He is currently an advisor to the Mexican National Health Council on and Integrated Chemical Management Policy and Lead, where he has contributed to a new stringent proposed lead standard of 1mcg/dl. He has also achieved the national standard for lead intoxication management and is currently advancing on research related to lead and crime propensity. He has advocated for the reform of the Health Regulatory Agency in Mexico, now in crisis given its limits to confront the regulatory demands from COVID-19 and the expectations on chemicals management. He has been working on Latin-American countries institutional capacity, and in regional and global intergovernmental health organizations. He has collaborated with the National Academy of Sciences on the need for organizational development, governance, and legal frameworks for public health regulation abroad. He has worked on environmental risks (urbanization, air pollution, carcinogens, cancer, and childhood malformations).
On the study of crisis and health, he has led the study on the health impact from the hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, considering the implications for public health preparedness and resilience when confronting the growing challenge of natural disasters. As an extension he has addressed the intensification of hurricanes as a consequence of climate change specially in the Caribbean. From this experience he has expanded his work on the use of total excess mortality for epidemiology surveillance in crisis such as during the current pandemic currently studying the excess mortality in the Washington-Maryland-Virginia Capital Region.
He has contributed to management of COVID-19 pandemic nationally and globally, considering criteria for emergencies, healthy social distance, obesity risk, and mortality surveillance, as well as the policies for a global response. He got fully involved in the determination of Mexico's National Bioethics guide on COVID-19 and distribution of scarce resources, as adopted by the National Health Council.
He continues addressing Noncommunicable Diseases risk factors (tobacco, alcohol, unhealthy diets, and childhood obesity), Structural Birth Defects in relation to food toxins and pesticides, and emerging topics such the public health consequences of the legalization of psychoactive drugs. He is seeking to advance on its use to assess the impact on health from Climate change. Interrelated to this, he is advocating at academic, governmental, and multilateral organizations on the institutional capacity development for primary health care and public health functions.
Dr. Santos-Burgoa has practiced clinical medicine, and he has worked in academia, consulting, and management at the national and international level. He practiced in Mexico City´s slums, the southern indigenous midlands, and the Mayan communities. He did research identifying the carcinogenesis of 1,3-butadiene in synthetic rubber workers. His epidemiologic research also included atmospheric and indoors air pollution, mining (lead, coal, and manganese), heavy metals and ecosystem health pesticides, industrial environmental and occupational health. He was Dean of the School of Public Health of Mexico at the National Institute of Public Health, Director General of the Health Environment and Work Institute – a private consulting and research firm -, Director General at Mexico´s Ministry of Health, and Senior Advisor and Acting Department Director at the Pan American Health Organization (the regional WHO organization). At Mexico´s MoH he developed strategies such as the Federal Commission for Sanitary Risk Protection, the Strategy for Health Services Provision Organizational Reform, and the Health Promotion Operation Model. He was responsible for establishing and negotiating the inter-sectoral policy on "Salud Alimentaria" as related to the obesity epidemic; within this he managed the interaction with the industry from a government perspective. He was a country representative to NAFTA side Agreements, to the Earth Summit of Johannesburg (2002), and to bilateral environmental, food and drugs negotiation with USA and Canada. As international officer he contributed to several regional strategies and resolutions (Health and Human Security, Urban Health, Non-communicable Diseases, Childhood Obesity, and the draft Environmental Health Strategy), and to three world summits negotiation of the outcome documents from the UN-High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases, the regional consultation for the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Río+20).
Dr. Santos-Burgoa is a Medical Doctor from Mexico´s National Autonomous University (UNAM) and a doctorate environmental epidemiologist from Johns Hopkins University. He is a Graduate of the Program for Senior Executive Business Management (AD-2) at the Pan-American Institute of Business Administration (IPADE). He has published in peer reviewed journals, chapters, institutional technical reports, and books. He has participated at several boards, and he is currently a member of the Social Determinants of Health committee at Mexico´s National Academy of Medicine, the International Advisory Board of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence NHS UK, and the Policy Committee for the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology. He participates in numerous national and international professional societies. He is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Medicine of Mexico and of the Collegium Ramazzini. He has received several national and international awards, including the “2006 Distinguished Alumni Award” from the Johns Hopkins University.