About2 2017-10-10T15:47:08+00:00

CKDu’s heaviest documented toll is in Central America, but has been reported in other regions. 1

La Isla Network is dedicated to ending the epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease of non-traditional causes (CKDu) through a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach.

We are improving working conditions, standardizing research protocols, supporting responsible transitions to modernized industrial practices, and providing data-driven policy recommendations to address the CKDu crisis.


We are generating, supporting, and executing evidence-driven solutions to end the fatal CKDu epidemic by understanding the scale and impact of the disease and its causes both scientific and social. In the process, we are improving working conditions and supporting the creation and enforcement of policies required to protect those affected.


We envision a world in which all workers at risk of CKDu are protected and what we have learned through our efforts is adapted to protect other groups facing public and occupational health crises in other industries.


La Isla Network evolved from La Isla Foundation in 2016. The organization’s name comes from a community in Nicaragua where so many men have died of CKDu that locals call it ‘La Isla de Viudas,’ or The Island of Widows. (Read more.)

For eight years, a team of La Isla Foundation specialists in public health and human rights have worked in Nicaragua to generate knowledge about the causes of CKDu and develop strategies to confront it locally. These strategies include disease prevalence studies and labor rights assessments, clean water well installations, and alternative skills training programs. Simultaneously, the Foundation brought the world’s attention to the CKDu crisis, facilitating reports by major media outlets including The New York Times, The Guardian (UK), Al Jazeera, and National Geographic.

In 2014, La Isla Foundation joined with Solidaridad to assemble a multi-stakeholder team under the banner of the Worker Health and Efficiency (WE) Program. WE is a collaborative initiative that brings together the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), leading occupational health experts, policy-makers, universities and sugar producers to find and execute solutions to the problem of CKDu.

After publishing the first results of the WE Program in 2015, La Isla Foundation split into two organizations: (1) Fundación Comunitaria Isla, the local Nicaraguan NGO that independently remains focused on local community development; and (2) La Isla Network, the international civil society organization focused on achieving macro-level change across continents.



Jason Glaser (Founder, President and CEO) utilizes his backgrounds in documentary production and international investigation to coordinate scientific research, advocacy, publicity, agricultural innovation and community development projects aimed at ending the CKDu epidemic. He is currently studying epidemiology at LSHTM in order to be the most effective leader possible.

A leading voice on this topic worldwide, scientific articles co-authored by Glaser have appeared in the American Journal of Kidney Disease, MEDICC Review, and Nature’s Kidney International, among others. His commentary on the epidemic is sourced by major news media, including The New York Times, VICE, National Geographic, Science, NPR and Scientific American. Glaser is recognized as one of five 2015 Tallberg Global Leaders.

Glaser encountered the CKDu epidemic in Nicaragua while producing the documentary film Bananaland, an investigation of environmental and human rights abuses in the Latin American banana industry.

Core Team

Tom Laffay is a documentary filmmaker, visual journalist and human rights activist based in Central America. Fluent in Spanish and self-taught in media production and photography, Laffay holds a BA in Political Science and Latin American Studies. He has been dedicated to social justice issues in the Americas for a decade and since 2011 has worked to document the Chronic Kidney Disease (CKDu) epidemic affecting agricultural communities in Central America and India. His work has appeared in workers’ rights manuals, medical journals, international editorial publications, non-governmental organizations’ media, and art exhibitions. Laffay mentors Central American photographers and has participated in teaching workshops in addition to speaking on the issues he has covered, aiming to continue working on the pressing issues facing the Americas in years to come. He works with La Isla Network to bring the perspectives and stories of the people affected to the forefront of the research and industry efforts to address the epidemic of CKDu. (Contact, Instagram and Twitter)



Robert Quirk is a sugarcane grower in Australia. He has been growing sugarcane for over 50 years and has represented the industry at local, state, national and international levels. Quirk has been involved in scientific research for the last 25 years, hosting 11 PhD studies on his property concerning subjects as diverse as biochar use in sugarcane production, reduction in GHG emissions, nitrogen losses, carbon accumulation, and acid sulphate soil (ASS) remediation. Through this work, Quirk has authored or co-authored 30 peer-reviewed papers. He has developed the world’s best practice for growing sugarcane in ASS. He sits on national committees representing Australian farmers on climate change adaptation, acid sulphate soils, and the International Union of Soil Sciences’ working group for ASS.

Quirk is recognized on ABC Carbon’s list of the top 100 sustainability leaders in the world. He has been invited to speak on sustainability in over 30 countries. As a result of his work, he has received many national and international awards.

Armin Rosencranz, Professor of Law at Jindal Global University, is a lawyer and political scientist (AB Princeton; MA, JD, PhD Stanford). He founded Pacific Environment, an international environmental NGO that he led for nine years. Rosencranz taught energy and climate for many years at Stanford with his late colleague Steve Schneider, with whom he co-edited two books on climate change policy. He received three teaching awards at Stanford and is a former Stanford trustee. He has been an Indianist for more than 30 years, and has taught at four Indian law schools. His co-authored book, Environmental Law and Policy in India, is the standard book on the subject in India. He has received five Fulbright awards, including two to India.

Karen Shroder is an accomplished practitioner with over 20 years’ senior leadership experience in Occupational Health & Safety, Environment, Sustainability and Workers’ Compensation roles in a range of organizations across the FMCG and telecommunications sectors, agribusiness, mining and manufacturing. She holds postgraduate qualifications in Human Resource Management and Science. With a proven track record of delivering organisational outcomes and sustainable processes, Shroder is regularly relied upon as a trusted strategic advisor.

Our Network

For eight years, La Isla Network has been a hub for connecting leaders addressing the CKDu epidemic. Through the LIN platform we are leveraging the support, interest and resources of universities, government institutions, and companies towards ending CKDu:

We conduct our work hand in hand with leaders across a variety of disciplines affiliated with institutions around the world, including London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Lund University, Colorado University, Harvard University, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Ingenio El Angel, Stanford University, University College London, Centro de Investigación en Salud, Trabajo y Ambiente at National Autonomous University of Nicaragua-León (UNAN), the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau Of International Labor Affairs (DoL-ILAB), University of Massachusetts Lowell, El Programa Salud, Trabajo y Ambiente (SALTRA), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Public Health Foundation of India, Karolinska Institutet, and many more.

Over the coming months we will be introducing you to some of the people and organizations we work with here and what they are doing to address CKDu.


  1. American Association for the Advancement of Science, http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/mysterious-kidney-disease-goes-global