Mario Grijalva, Ph.D., director of the Infectious and Tropical Disease Institute (ITDI) at Ohio University, shared the story of how a long-standing partnership between Ohio University and Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador (PUCE) paved the way for a new research facility in Ecuador, when he spoke at a national conference that took place in San Diego April 27-28.
Grijalva, who also serves as director of the Center for Research in Health in Latin America (CISeAL) was a keynote speaker at Research Facilities 2017, sponsored by Tradeline, Inc., a firm that organizes conferences to provide facilities planning and management information to facility planners, managers, and executives.
In June 2016, CISeAL had its grand opening in Nayon, Ecuador. A 100,000-square-foot, six-story, state-of-the-art level 2 and 3 biohazard research facility, CISeAL can accommodate 22 permanent research groups and support personnel, as well as visiting researchers and students. The center’s work will combat life-threatening infectious and chronic diseases throughout Latin America, by providing a collaborative space for scientific engagement.
Dr. Grijalva has spent much of his scientific career working to study and reduce the spread of Chagas, an infectious disease transmitted by the bite of the triatomine bug, in his native Ecuador. It was largely the success of his research endeavors that prompted PUCE to build the CISeAL facility, which is aimed at fostering a broad range of infectious and chronic disease research to address emerging and existing health challenges.
In his presentation at the conference, on the topic “Facility features for multi-institutional, global health-focused research programs,” Dr. Grijalva illustrated how 16 years of strategic interaction and partnership between OHIO and PUCE informed the design decisions for the new CISeAL facility.
“CISeAL is a pioneering facility in Latin America,” he told his audience. “The design of this facility incorporated technological advances, technology that is fundamental to develop innovative research of high impact. Also, it is important to emphasize that the design and construction of the Center is the result of years of collaborative work between Ohio University and PUCE. From both institutions we have worked under a common interest: to work tirelessly to improve the wellbeing of underserved populations.”
Participation in this conference underscores the commitment of ITDI and CISeAL to continued engagement in academic spaces that allow positive interaction and learning to take place among partners from different experiences and backgrounds. The facility symbolizes the belief that to face global challenges it is fundamental to work jointly among disciplines, institutions and cultures.