"Improving the health status of underserved populations through sustainable and comprehensive research, service and educational initiatives related to infectious diseases."

Tropical Disease Research Program in Ecuador

Summer 2017:
June 1st - July 11th*

Programs vary from 2 to 5 weeks in length

Directed by Mario J. Grijalva, Ph.D.

- Earn up to 15 semester credit hours -
Last updated on 03/21/2016 02:53 PM

*approximate dates. May be subject to change and cancellation

Click Here to Apply!
Application Deadline:TBD

See below for Undergraduate Service Learning


Key Information

Dates: June 1st - July 11th   (subject to change)
(Variable stays from 2 to 5 weeks)
Type: Practical and Theoretical Research training
Course, Internship, service learning and outreach volunteer
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 improving their Spanish skills.
Deadline: February 23, 2015 Rolling admission (Applications will be reviewed in a roll in basis)

Cost will vary  according to length of stay and Program Component Please refer to the Budget Worksheets below.

Application: https://webapps.ohio.edu/eais/student/index.cfm
Contact: Mario J. Grijalva, 333 Irvine Hall, grijalva@ohiou.edu
(740) 593 2192; (740) 597 2778 (Fax)

Program Summary

15th Tropical Disease Research Program
June 1st - July 4th: Summer 2017

Chagas disease is a neglected tropical disease that affects approximately 10 million people in the American continent. The World Health Organization labels Chagas Disease as ‘neglected’ because it disproportionately affects people living in poor and marginalized communities with limited or no access to health services. Neglected diseases create health, social and economic burdens that often place those they afflict in a cycle of poverty and disease.

The mission of the Infectious and Tropical Disease Institute (ITDI) and the Center for Infectious Diseases Research in Quito (CIEI) is to reach underserved populations with state of the art training and technology to help control the transmission of Chagas disease and break the transmission cycle of the disease in Ecuador. Since early 2000, teams of biologist, entomologists, health practitioners and development specialists have conducted research on Chagas disease and the transmission cycle in several areas of Ecuador.

For further information about the Infectious and Tropical Disease Institute, please see our various opportunities and how to get involved to do your part in helping to break the transmission cycle of Chagas disease!  

Watch Video about ITDI Programs in Ecuador 

Program Dates (subject to change)


Detailed Description of the Program Components

The Tropical Disease Research Program will have several field and laboratory-based components. Due to enrollment limitations in each component, applicants must indicate their preferred components and rank them. Transfer between components will be possible depending on space availability. The number of components that can be experienced will depend on the duration of stay with the program. Participation in each component will be for at least one week. Assignments will be made on a first come-first serve basis.

Component 1: Biomedical Research
This component is designed for students from all disciplines who are interested in learning about tropical disease research. The scientific objectives are focused on the dynamics and control of Chagas disease transmission, as a model for Tropical Diseases. The component is open to all undergraduate, graduate students and medical students. A team of experienced biologist from the Center for Infectious Disease Research in Quito, Ecuador and ITDI will be supervising all participants. This component can host up to 15 participants at a time (see podcast). Activities may involve: entomological surveys, housing questionnaires, parasitological research, educational, laboratory and field opportunities.

Students who participate in this component will have experiences including but not limited to:

  • Teams formed by Ministry of Health field entomologists and student participants can choose to either visit selected houses in the communities or the sylvatic areas near the homes to determine the presence of the triatomine insects. The visits will also incorporate a housing survey and an educational talk to the family about Chagas disease prevention.

  • Participants may choose to gain the experience of assisting in a bio-safety level II field laboratory where they will conduct parasitological analysis of the triatomines collected. The field lab will have three Ecuadorian personnel and three participants at a time

    • See two short videos related to the field activities from Summer 2009 here and here

    • See 6 part podcast series about the project here, via YouTube or iTunes (search Tropical Disease Institute's Ecuador Podcasts);

    • See 4 part podcast series about the project following these links: 7, 8, 9 and 10

    • See the FAQ to learn how a typical day’s schedule is and activities will take place if you are in the field.

Component 2: Healthy Living Initiative

The Healthy Living Initiative (HLI) is a research- based effort aimed at designing, implementing, and evaluating a sustainable Chagas disease prevention model based on holistic, multi-disciplinary, transferable, and community-oriented processes. It combines scientific research and local knowledge to build living environments that deter Chagas disease by addressing the interrelated social, economic and political factors driving the disease. If proven successful, the model will serve as a transferable approach for effectively prevent Chagas disease by improving health and expanding opportunities for people whose potential is now restricted by this forgotten disease.

Children HLIHealth promotionCeibos

  • a. Healthy Living Initiative Intervention*
    After 20 years of collaboration, the project serves as ITDI and CIEI’s strategy for moving from the laboratory
    to affected communities where the scientific research and local knowledge merge to generate effective solutions to Chagas disease’s structural causes. Carried out in collaboration with the Center for International Studies at Ohio University, it entails an approach to health promotion that takes into consideration professional perspectives of biologists, entomologists, architects, sociologists, and social scientists in order to create sustainable solutions that address complex and multiple challenges driving to tropical infectious diseases.

    This multidisciplinary initiative is designed for students of all backgrounds, particularly those interested in learning about tropical disease prevention, global health, and rural development issues. Activities may involve designing, implementing, and evaluating socioeconomic development projects, assisting research efforts by a principal investigator, joining health promotion activities, and designing cross-cultural assessments.

    Students who participate in this component will have experiences including but not limited to:

    • Conceptualization, design, and implementation of research-based projects aimed at supporting the Healthy Living Initiative strategic perspectives

    • Experiential learning created to introduce students to practical design and implementation of development projects linked to health promotion in rural communities.

    • Cultural exchanges with different communities in southern Ecuador.

  • b. Undergraduate Service Learning - Healthy Homes for Healthy Living

    Click here for more information on the Undergraduate Service Learning Program

    Follow this link to apply for this component

    Healthy Homes for Healthy Living is a Chagas disease prevention initiative aimed at interrupting Chagas disease transmission by preventing colonization of houses by sylvatic triatomines in three rural communities of southern Ecuador. It is mainly focused on designing, implementing, and evaluating housing solutions resistant to triatomines presence considering: scientific knowledge on local triatomines’ biology and ecology, Chagas disease epidemiology, and existing knowledge on housekeeping practices and construction techniques. This program is designed for students interested in:

    • Collaborating with local families in building and restoring existing homes.

    • Learning new building techniques with locally sourced materials

    • Assisting in building projects and educational activities

    • Participating in manual labor and assisting in building projects.

    • Working closely to promote healthy practices in the interior and periphery area of local homes

  • c. Sports and Development

    Physical activity involvement, such as youth sport and community-based activities are beneficial for children and youth.  These activities increase autonomy, concentration, initiative, intrinsic motivation moral development, self-confidence, and social competence (Balyi & Hamilton, 2004, Coakley, 2007; Ewing, Seefeldt, & Brown, 1997; Hedstrom & Gould, 2004). Students will engage in curriculum development and delivery of activities involving recreational play, sports and health education for the children and youth in rural Ecuadorian communities.  This program aims to support the HLI (Healthy Living Initiative) by  using a holistic multi-disciplinary approach to address Chagas disease prevention.    Participants in this component will gain instructional experience, cultural competency, research training and other skills that will be applicable to their careers; not to mention the experience will strengthen their resumes.  Potential activities include :

    • Assess what the children and youth know about Chagas disease prevention.  Then develop ways to strengthen the message using their voices. 
    • Work closely with the community members to organize activities that are community-oriented, empower leadership opportunities for sustainable recreational plan, sports and health education.
    • Hosting a Soccer camp that uses a games model to engage in deliberate play activities while educating the children and youth on Chagas disease prevention
    • Developing a Basketball camp or play day that uses a games model to engage in deliberate play activities while educating the children and youth on Chagas disease prevention
    • Engage the children and youth in natural Outdoor recreational activities (e.g. playground play).

Component 3: Visual Communication Practice

This program is designed for students from Film, Media, Photography and Visual Communication majors who are interested in practical experience in their areas of interest. Students who participate in this experience will be able to join efforts designed to:

  • Promote research and development projects in communities exposed to Chagas disease through multimedia production.

  • Gain a better understanding and appreciation of Ecuadorian culture through photo and video.

  • Strengthen their storytelling skills from a critical perspective.

  • Apply advanced field production techniques learned in classes.

  • Strengthen local communities by utilizing multimedia as a tool for social change.

Lab research

Component 4 - Laboratory Research

A limited number of participants can prolong their stay in the Center for Infectious Disease Research in Quito. Participants will continue processing the biological samples and data collected in the field.

For more information on this opportunity contact:

Dr. Mario Grijalva: grijalva@ohio.edu
The Global Health Initiative: globalhealth@ohio.edu
The Office of Global Opportunities (Education Abroad):globalopportunities@ohio.edu


 Preliminary schedule for the Tropical Disease Research Program (Subject to Change)


Week 1

Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6

Week 7

Biomedical Research

      X X



Comp. 2a: Healthy Living Initiative Summer Intervention*





Comp. 2b: UG Service Learning: Healthy Homes for Healthy Living   X X X X X  
Comp 2c. Sports and recreation       X X    
Comp. 3: Visual Communication Practice       X X    

Comp 4.: Laboratory Research in Quito




May 24 to May 30 May 31 to June 6 June 6 to June 13 June 14 to June 20

June 21 to June 27

June 28 to July 4

July 5 to July 11

 *To participate in this component, students must register for the Healthy Living Initiative class (INST 6900) at Ohio University


Arrival and departure schedule

Participants can choose to participate in the program at different schedules as listed in the tables below. The minimum duration of stay will be 2 weeks, the maximum will be 7 weeks. Week 6 and 7 activities will be conducted in Quito, working at the Center for Infectious Disease Research.


Costs of participation will be calculated based on a prorated daily cost. For specific information please contact Dr. Grijalva

Proposed travel dates and arrangements should be made by the participants after accepting his/her nomination into the program and MUST be approved by the program director prior to purchase of the air tickets.

Travel from Quito to the study site will be arranged according to these dates. Travel or arrival at different times will be considered in exceptional cases and the costs associated with travel to/from Quito to the study site will not be covered by the program fee.

International Arrival and Departure Options (Subject to change)


Upon preliminary acceptance into the program, accepted participants need to indicate their preferred schedule. Assignments will be made on a first come  first serve basis. In addition to the dates listed below, a select number of participants will arrive on June 1st and depart on August 15.


Option   Arrival to Quito Departure from Quito Group Duration Costs Costs
    date date   in Days Undergraduate Medical
Option 1* Monday, May 23 Monday, June 27 HLI Development Team (2a) 35    
Option 2 Monday, May 30 Saturday, July 2 Undergraduate Service Learning (2b) 35 Worksheet Worksheet
Option 3 Saturday, June 4 Monday, June 27 HLI Graduate Research Experience (2a) 23 Worksheet Worksheet
Option 4 Saturday, June 11 Monday, June 27 Biomedical Research Field (1)
Sports and Recreation (2c)
Visual Communications (3)
16 Worksheet Worksheet
Option 5 Friday, June 10 Saturday, July 9 Biomedical Research Field + Quito Lab (1, 4) 28 Worksheet Worksheet


* Development Team Only

Includes 2 weeks conducting laboratory work at the Center for Infectious Disease Research in Quito


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-OU students.

Course Credits Undergraduate Students - Minimum 5 Credits
Bios 4930 Topics in Biological Sciences: Tropical Disease Research 1-2       CR  
Bios 4940 Undergraduate Research 1-2       CR Multiple sections can be taken to fill the number of credit hours
Bios 4940 Undergraduate Research 1-2       CR
Bios 4940 Undergraduate Research 1-2       CR
Bios 4910 Internship: International Research 1-15     CR  

Graduate Students Minimum 9 Credits

Bios 6820 Advanced Topics: International Research 1-4        CR Multiple sections can be taken to fill the number of credit hours
Bios 6950 Masters Research & Thesis 1-15       CR For students conducting thesis or dissertation work
Bios 8950 Doctoral Dissertation 1-15       CR
INST 6930 Indep. Study: Development, Communications and LA Culture 1-5 CR  
INST 6940 Practicum in Community Outreach: Health Issues in Ecuador  2 CR  
 OUHCOM Students

Non-Credit available for students not attending Ohio University


Enrollment and eligibility

This multidisciplinary program is open to students interested in international studies, health and medicine, the environment, international development, health education, international relief work, biology, engineering, political science, economics, sociology, anthropology, economics, and others. Undergraduate, graduate, medical and nursing students are encouraged to apply. Special arrangements can also be made for faculty and other professionals interested in participating. Students of all higher education institutions in the United States and abroad are eligible to apply.

Enrollment is limited. Admission is determined by Dr. Grijalva based on direct communication with interested individuals. Please e-mail Dr. Grijalva, indicating your interest in participating. Since this is a research training project, admissions will be based on the interface between the applicant's interest and expertise, and the specific needs of the project.

 Please check the Policy on Judicial Standing for Study Abroad Participants

Costs of the program

  • Actual costs will depend on the Program Component selected, number of credit hours, and duration of stay (See schedules).
    For detailed information about costs regarding your preferred itinerary please contact Dr. Grijalva
  • Program fee and tuition will cover all participant's expenses in country:
    • food
    • lodging
    • transportation
    • logistics
    • Health insurance.
  • Costs not covered include:
    • souvenirs, entertainment, telephone and internet access charges and other personal expenses (~$100 per week recommended)
    • food while in route  from USA to Quito to USA.
    • Costs of passport ($165), required vaccinations, bednet and Malaria Prophylaxis
    • Airline ticket cost (participants are responsible for arranging their own flight). Past participants have purchased tickets from different cities in the USA to Quito from $900 to $1200, depending on dates and airline.
    • Immunizations and anti-malaria prophylaxis

    A backup credit card and/or an ATM card is a good idea in the event of unforeseen expenses. Access to functional ATMs outside of Quito can be unreliable. You can cash travelers checks in Quito, but are unlikely to be able to do so at most of our other destinations. Traveler’s checks are useless outside of the cities.

Actions required: How to Apply

  1. Attend information meetings (See announcements above) or participate in conference calls.
  2. Please e-mail Dr. Grijalva indicating your interest in participating in the Tropical Disease Research Program
  3. OHIO University Students: Complete the GOIS On-line Program Application

         Year 3 & 4 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.


Non-OHIO students: Follow the Non-Ohio Graduate or Undergraduate Instructions to enroll as a non-degree student at Ohio University before you apply for the Tropical Disease Research Program.


4. Students will be notified of the decision within two weeks after the application submission deadline. All participants: Carefully read the nomination e-mail sent to you. Accept or decline your nomination through EAIS by the program deadline. Your Health Information Form will need to be filled out at this time.


Post Nomination Checklist: Please refer to the Global Health Program Checklist for instructions on submitting additional information once you have been nominated for a program. This checklist also includes information on course registration for programs.

A non refundable deposit will be required upon acceptance into the program. The deposit will be applied to the program costs and deducted from the participant’s bill:

OHIO-University Participants will be sent a deposit slip with their e-mailed nomination letter and will have to pay a non-refundable deposit of $500 to the Bursar's office (Chubb Hall). Cash or check  payments accepted.

Non-Ohio University Participants will be sent a deposit slip by e-mail and will return payment by check to the Ohio University to the Bursar’s Office at:  PO Box 960, Athens, OH  45701.  Please include the deposit slip with the mailing.  A non-degree application must be processed before the deposit can be credited to your account.

Registration:  All participants will need to work with Dr. Grijalva to select their courses and then self-register for the appropriate courses through the OHIO System.  On-campus students may  attend scheduled computer lab sessions offered by the Office of Education Abroad to complete registration. Off-campus, non-OHIO and non-credit students can contact for the Office of Education Abroad for additional instructions or help as needed.

Once accepted, participants will be required to complete additional paperwork in EAIS, including registering with the U.S. Department of State and completing a Confirmation Form, completing the HTH Application, and providing documentation of immunizations, your travel itinerary and copy of your passport information page. You will also be asked to send in a digital passport sized photo by April 30.

Final payment will be posted to your Ohio University Student Account and due prior to departure in Mid-May to Early June.. You WILL NOT receive an invoice by mail. To avoid paying late fees, you will need to use your OHIO ID to check your OHIO student account regularly to pay the program fees

Promotional and informational:

  • Participants will be asked to contribute with written material to be used on the Web and in other informational and promotional media

  • Consent will be asked for the use of photographs or video material depicting participants on the Web or in other media.

Useful information

Podcast series about the project
A series of 10 podcasts showcasing the different activities within the program.

Video Updates from Summer 2009 program 1, 2, 3
A series of 3 videos in YouTube where participants narrate their experiences during the Summer 2009 program.

Funding Sources for Students
Listing of internal and external funding sources for participation in ITDI sponsored programs.

What to bring
A list of suggested supplies, clothing and other items.

Travelers Health Information
Vaccinations required, anti-malaria prophylaxis, etc.

Logistics and Safety
TDI programs have an excellent safety record. See details about the logistical arrangements, email access, etc.

Guidelines for Ethical Practice
The OHIO-Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine has adopted the AAMC’s “Guidelines for Premedical and Medical Students Providing Patient Care During Clinical Experiences Abroad”.

Other resources

Ecuador Links
Information about Ecuador: News and Media, Tourism, Cities, Culture, etc.

Infectious Disease Links
Information about protozoan, bacterial, Viral diseases and relevant organizations


Contact Information

Mario J. Grijalva
333 Irvine Hall
Athens, OH 45701
(740) 593 2192 (Of.)
(740) 597 2778 (Fax)
Office of Global Health Programs
Ohio University
E118 Grover Center, Athens, OH  45701
Phone:  740-593-2359; Fax 740-593-1730.


For more information about ITDI programs contact Dr. Grijalva at grijalva@ohiou.edu                                                    Hit Counter
Ohio University
College of Osteopathic Medicine
Irvine Hall, Athens, Ohio 45701
740-593-2530 740-597-2778 fax

Last updated: 03/21/2016