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Tropical Disease Research Program and International Research Training Course

Summer 2022

COVID-19. Given the changing nature of the pandemic, we reserve the right to modify dates, logistics or even to cancel the program according to the global situation in general or the situation of the rural communities where we work. In case the program is cancelled due to COVID19, deposits will be fully refunded.


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19th Tropical Disease Research Program

Summer 2022: June 17 to July 2

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. Our provider in Ecuador requires participants to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

Deadline: March 20, 2022

Apply Now 

Once you start the application, create an account and log in to the portal using the right-hand side of the GO App for "Non-Affiliated Applicants." Staff will be available to assist non-OHIO students create an OHIO ID, etc. 


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

Program Videos




Program Dates

The program takes place from June 17 to July 2, 2022, and includes the following options within the program experience:

Option 1: Tropical Disease Research

Option 2: Intercultural Communication Experience  

Option 3: Multimedia Field Production  

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
  • Help to build an irrigation system
  • 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. Notice: Activities will strictly adhere to COVID-19 prevention practices.

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


Undergraduate Student (click to download)

Graduate Student (click to download)

Medical Student (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: Academic and judicial checks on all OHIO students are conducted after application and prior to departure. Students who will be on judicial probation at the time 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 a 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.