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TDR2023-oppportunities medical students
Opportunities for Medical Students
A unique experience to strengthen your residency applications

Opportunities for Medical Students


The Tropical Disease Research and Service Learning Program (TDR) aims to provide medical students with the following opportunities:

  • To conduct health and wellness related research in underserved communities of Ecuador.
  • To conduct shadowing of health care providers in the context of private and public health care facilities.
  • To participate in service-learning activities that directly benefit the communities we will be working with.

Medical students are expected to engage with the Medical Spanish Club at the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (HCOM) and attain at least basic professional language skills.

Research topics for TDR could include: pediatric health, adult health, diabetes, nutrition, anemia, helminths, Chagas disease, mental health, access to health care, knowledge-attitudes-practices. social determinants of health, public health, etc.

Research Intensive or Research Assistance tracks

The program offers two levels of research involvement, Intensive and Assistance.

Research Intensive

Students work with faculty mentors to develop a research project from the ground up. They will focus on defining objectives and methodologies, applying for Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and Protection of Human Subjects in Clinical Trials approval, and developing project planning and budgeting with remote interaction with in-country counterparts. For this track, there are a limited number of spots.

To apply and get approval, please contact the Infectious and Tropical Disease Institute (check key dates). Once the project is approved, students must apply online in conjunction with applications to RSAF and other funding opportunities offered by HCOM.

Research Assistance

Students are expected to attend organizational meetings, complete the human subject research training, and learn about the research preparation process related to the research and service-learning projects. Once on the field, students serve as research assistants. No expectation of further involvement after the end of the program.

For this track, no prior approval is needed. Funding support from HCOM, RUSP and others is available.  

Shadowing of Health Care Providers

  • Detailed explanation of the health-care system in Ecuador.
  • Visit to private and public hospitals in Quito, Loja City, and Cariamanga.
  • Shadowing private health-care providers in public hospitals and clinics.

Service Learning Activities

Multiple service-learning activities developed in consultation with the communities. These may include:

  • Educational talks related to nutrition and disease prevention.
  • Work with locals in organic gardening production.
  • Work with activities to empower groups of teens and young-adults to improve health conditions.
  • Assist in anti-Chagas home improvement activities.
  • Help to produce a theater play with the local school.

Key dates

  • Applications for TDR 2023 are closed.

Funding Opportunities

Funding opportunities for our programs can be sought here


For more information about the program, please contact Dr. Mario Grijalva