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Tropical Disease Research Program and International Research Training Course

Summer 2022


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19th Tropical Disease Research Program

Summer 2022

Since early 2000, teams of biologists, entomologists, health practitioners, architects and development specialists have conducted research on Chagas disease and its transmission cycles in several areas of Ecuador. Students with academic interests as diverse as microbiology to anthropology to Spanish language to communication studies have participated in this initiative. The Tropical Disease Research and Service Learning program is a result of 18+ years of collaboration between the Infectious and Tropical Disease Institute at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Center for Research on Health in Latin America. Following their research principles, ITDI and CISeAL aim to reach underserved populations with state-of-the-art training and technology to help control the transmission of Chagas disease and other infectious and chronic conditions affecting populations in Ecuador and Latin America. 

Eligibility: Students from institutions of higher education (undergraduate, graduate, medical, non-degree); professionals and community members interested in international research related to health, development and community education; individuals interested in service learning; individuals interested in improving their Spanish skills; individuals interested in learning in a cross-cultural environment.

Deadline: Contact us for more information on the application for summer 2022.

Apply Now 

(Non-OHIO students should e-mail globalhealth@ohio.edu on steps for enrollment, as a non-degree application to Ohio University must be filled out before applying through the above system.)


Dr. Mario Grijalva, 333 Irvine Hall, grijalva@ohio.edu, 740.593.2192

Program Videos




Program Dates

The program usually takes place from mid-June to mid-July and includes the following options within the program experience:

Option 1: Tropical Disease Research

Option 2: Intercultural Communication Experience  

Option 3: Multimedia Field Production  

Students may choose to extend their time in Ecuador to participate in the following:

Extension 1: International Research Training Workshop (3-4 days)

Extension 2: Laboratory Research - Variable dates, minimum of two weeks (in addition to or separate from the above)

Detailed Description of the Program Components

Option 1: Community-Based Tropical Disease Research

Locations: Quito and Loja Province

ITDI is combining scientific research and local knowledge to build living environments that deter Chagas, a preventable yet neglected infectious disease that has infected more than 7 million people worldwide.

Our ongoing projects work to:

- improve infrastructure,

- promote healthy living practices, and

- increase income generation.

Specific projects vary based on the needs of the community and availability of resources, but the following are examples of the type of work that will be conducted:

  • Entomological searches
  • Housing questionnaires and infrastructure assessments
  • Parasitological research
  • Chagas disease knowledge evaluation
  • Home-based health promotion
  • Participation in the construction of houses that prevent bug infestation (“anti-Chagas” houses)
  • Community education in elementary schools, as well as to groups of adults
  • Environmental assessments
  • Work in productive gardens
  • Service projects

Students will participate in both research and service activities. All participants will participate in regular group reflections while contributing to the creation of conditions that prevent and control Chagas disease and promote healthy living.

Option 2: Intercultural Communication Experience

While participating in the above-described research and service-learning activities, students will enroll in COMS 1100, a Tier 2 course that explores the relationship between culture and communication. Students in this course will understand that culture includes not only issues of nationality, ethnicity and race, but also gender, socioeconomic status, age, etc. Using a number of co-cultural, cross-cultural and intercultural examples, students will explore how communication is a key component of bridging cultural differences.

This program will allow communication students to gain unparalleled experiences by being embedded in interdisciplinary teams as they engage in various types of research and service-oriented work. A special section of COMS 4800, a Tier 3 class, is available for students who have already completed COMS 1100.

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Benjamin Bates, batesb@ohio.edu, professor, Scripps College of Communication

Option 3: Multimedia Field Production and Social Media Campaigns

Communication students interested in production will create nonfiction multimedia projects documenting the work being done to mitigate the effects of Chagas in Loja Province, Ecuador. Students will also participate in research and service learning, as described above, but their primary responsibilities will focus on some or all of the following while in the field:

  • Multi-platform news reporting
  • Multi-platform documentary production
  • Written and photographic science communication
  • Implementing a social media campaign from the field

For more information, please contact:
Eric Wiliams, williae2@ohio.edu, professor, Scripps College of Communication

Extension 1: International Research Training Workshop 

Participants may choose to extend their stay in order to attend a three-day workshop at the Center for Research on Health in Latin America and one additional day of site-seeing in Quito.

The International Research Training Workshop evolves from 15+ years of experience providing multidisciplinary training in research methodology to students from the United States, Europe and Latin America. The course takes place in the context of the efforts by the Infectious and Tropical Disease Institute to combat Chagas disease in Ecuador. The course will provide participants with a solid background and skills to conduct interdisciplinary research in an international setting. This will be achieved through onsite lectures on applied research methodology and group exercises

This is a good opportunity for students of any discipline who want to pursue a research career that involves international sites, collaborations and human subject recruitment.

Extension 2: Laboratory Research at CISeAL- Customizable dates (Weekly Rate, Minimum of two weeks)

A limited number of participants can focus their participation in this summer program on laboratory work to be conducted at the Center for Research in Health in Latin America to extend their stay in Quito. Participants will process biological samples and data previously collected by researchers affiliated with CISeAL. Laboratory research includes but is not limited to:

  • Mosquito biology, physiology and control, led by Dr. Marco Neira
  • Molecular biology toward Malaria elimination in Ecuador, led by Dr. Fabian Saenz
  • Chagas disease biology, ecology risk factors, vector population dynamics and molecular biology, led by Drs. Sofia Ocana, Anita Villacis and Jaime Costales
  • Clinical research and blood banks referral unit, led by Rosa Chiriboga, M.A.

Exact placements are subject to change.

For more information on this opportunity, contact:

Dr. Mario Grijalva, 333 Irvine Hall, grijalva@ohio.edu, 740.593.2192


Undergraduate Student (click to download)

Graduate Student (click to download)

Medical Student (click to download)

Lab component (click to download)

Course Information

The number of semester credits available will vary with length of participation and will match the student's academic program needs. A non-credit option is available for non-OHIO students.

Below is a selection of courses that students can enroll in (additional courses may be arranged upon request):

Undergraduate Students-Minimum 5 hours

  • BIOS 4910 - Internship: International Research – 1-3
  • BIOS 4930 - Topics in Biological Sciences: Tropical Disease Research - 1-2
  • BIOS 4940 - Undergraduate Research - 1-2*
  • BIOS 4940 - Undergraduate Research - 1-2*
  • BIOS 4940 - Undergraduate Research - 1-2*
  • HLTH 4930 - Independent Studies – 4
  • COMS 1100 – Communication Among Cultures (Tier 2 course) – 3
  • COMS 4800 –Capstone Seminar in Communication (Tier 3 course)- 3
  • COMS 4900 – Special Topics in Comm Studies – 3
  • JOUR 4900 – Special Topics in Journalism – 3
  • MDIA 4900 – Special Topics in Media Arts and Studies – 3
  • T3 4103c – Undergraduate Service Learning in Ecuador (Tier 3 course)- 5

*Multiple sections may be taken to reach the minimum of 5 credit hours.

Graduate Students

  • BIOS 6820 - Advanced Topics: International Health - 1-4*
  • BIOS 6950 - Masters Research & Thesis - 1-15
  • BIOS 8950 - Doctoral Dissertation - 1-15
  • INST 6930 - Independent Study: Development, Communications, & LA Culture - 1-5
  • INST 6930 - Independent Study - 4
  • INST 6940 - Practicum in Community Outreach: Health Issues in Ecuador - 2

*Multiple sections may be taken to reach the minimum number of credit hours.

Non credit available for students not attending Ohio University.

How to Apply

OHIO University Students: Complete the GOIS On-line Program Application

Third-year and fourth-year Heritage College medical students applying for faculty-directed programs must also obtain and send a letter from your Clinical Education office confirming that you have permission to include the program in your schedule and that you are in good academic standing.

Academic and Judicial Checks: An academic and judicial check on all OHIO students is conducted after application and prior to departure. Students who will be on judicial probation at the dates of the experience will not be eligible to apply (check policy with the Office of Global Opportunities).

Non-OHIO students:  

Undergraduates: Follow this link to enroll as non-degree student before you apply to the Tropical Disease Research Program.

Graduate students: Contact globalhealth@ohio.edu to initiate the enrollment process.

*Once students have been notified of their nomination into the program, students will have two weeks to accept or decline their nomination through the GOIS system. They will also need to pay a nonrefundable deposit of $500 at that time.

Useful Information

Listing of internal and external funding sources for participation in ITDI-sponsored programs.

A list of suggested supplies, clothing and other items.

Vaccinations required, anti-malaria prophylaxis, etc.