"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 24th - July 22nd*

Programs vary from 2 to 15 weeks in length

Directed by Mario J. Grijalva, Ph.D.

- Earn up to 15 semester credit hours -
Last updated on 02/21/2017 10:15 AM

*approximate dates. May be subject to change and cancellation

Click Here to Apply!
Application Deadline
March 1, 2017



Key Information

Dates: June 24th - July 22nd   (subject to change)
(Variable stays from 2 to 15 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: March 1, 2017 -- Rolling admission

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

16th Tropical Disease Research Program
June 24th - July 22nd (variable length of stay) Summer 2017

The Community-based Tropical Disease Research program is a result of 15 years of collaboration between the Infectious and Tropical Disease Institute (ITDI) at Ohio University and the Center for Research on Health in Latin America (CISeAL). 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 population in Ecuador and Latin America. Since early 2000, teams of biologist, entomologists, health practitioners, architects and development specialists have conducted research on Chagas disease and its transmission cycles in several areas of Ecuador. Starting in 2009, we extended our operations to include new disciplines and research perspectives that could help us to better understand the context and conditions of the populations we intend to serve. This new edition of the Community-based Tropical Disease Research Program is another step toward the goal of bridging the theory-practice gap by employing labs and classrooms to operationalize knowledge and evaluate its capacity to improve the health and wellbeing of populations in need through field interventions.

Watch Video about ITDI Programs in Ecuador 

Program Dates (subject to change)

  • Options 1 and 2: Community based – Tropical Disease Research - June 24th to July 8th or June 24th to July 15th , 2017

    • Interdisciplinary Field Research to establish post-earthquake baseline-data (Manabi Province)

    • Interprofessional Clinical Research and Disaster Relief Health Care Clinic (Manabi Province)

  • Option 3: Humanitarian Service Learning in Ecuador- June 17th to July 22nd, 2017

  • Option 4: Laboratory Research at CISeAL – Variable May 6th to August 19th, 2017 (Weekly Rate, Minimum 2 weeks)



Detailed Description of the Program Components

Community Based-Tropical Disease Research

Location: Quito and Bahia de Caráquez, Manabí Province

Option 1 (2 weeks, June 24 to July 8, 2017)
Option 2 (3 weeks June 24 to July 15, 2017)

The coastal region of Ecuador was hit by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake on April 16, 2016, which killed more than 670 people, injured nearly 5,000 and left as many as 80,000 homeless. The coastal province of Manabí was hardest hit. Disaster relief efforts continue. Following CISeAL’s aim of fostering scientific engagement with science-driven and community-based research initiatives, this 15th Tropical Disease Research Program will transfer its efforts to Manabi province, one of the region’s most severely affected by the earthquake. Options 1 and 2 will allow students to gain practical research experience in one of the following research components:

Children HLI    Health promotion    Ceibos

Health research in earthquake recovery context (Manabi province):  
Students will have the opportunity to be involved in research projects designed to set the basis for a sustainable recovery of the affected areas. These activities will complement the disaster relief efforts currently led by local and national institutions. Activities in this component include but are not limited to:

  • Entomological surveys

  • Housing questionnaires and infrastructure assessments

  • Parasitological research

  • Mosquito-Borne and Chagas disease knowledge evaluation (Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya, Malaria)

  • Home-based health promotion

For more information on this component students can Dr. Mario Grijalva, Director ITD, grijalva@ohio.edu

Interprofessional Clinical Research and Disaster Relief Health Care Clinic (Manabi province)

Participants in this component of the Tropical Disease Research program will have the opportunity to conduct clinical research in interprofessional teams alongside Ecuadorian Ministry of Health officials, local physicians, staff of local and international NGOs, as well as faculty, staff and students from Catholic University of Ecuador, who are there to set up field clinics to provide health care services to residents (adults and children) of the Manabí area. Community members attending the clinic will be invited to participate in several research projects aimed to understand the extent by which the earthquake affected their health and wellbeing. This information will serve as the baseline to monitor overtime the effect of the relief effort. All health professions students are encouraged to apply. There will be opportunities for health education during clinic hours, so communication and education students are invited to apply to participate in this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people in Ecuador. Brief cultural excursions in Quito will be included.

You can select a two or three week option for the Clinical program.

Ohio faculty preceptors and staff include Dr. Mario Grijalva, Dr. Todd Fredricks, Dr. Tracy Shaub, [Nursing Faculty Member TBD], and Dr. Sharon Casapulla

  • Field-based primary health care research

  • Parasitological laboratory

  • Health education

  • Clinical research

For more information visit this sub component page or medical students can contact:
Sharon Casapulla at casapull@ohio.edu, Office of Rural and Underserved Programs
126 Irvine Hall • 1 Ohio University • Athens OH 45701-2979 • T: 740-593-2257


Students who have training in communication (health communication, journalistic writing, social media, multimedia, videography, photography, intercultural communication, and other areas of the field) will have the opportunity to work in interprofessional teams alongside students and faculty representing other disciplines related to health and social development. Communication students will help document activities of the groups to create progress reports, multimedia, and other narratives chronicling the work being done to mitigate the effects of the devastating earthquake in the Manabi province of Ecuador. All communication students are encouraged to apply. This program will allow communication students to gain unparalleled experiences by being embedded in interdisciplinary teams as they engage in various types of relief work. Students will also engage in research aimed at documenting the communication infrastructure of the affected region to establish a baseline for measuring future development. Brief cultural excursions in Quito will be included.

Ohio faculty mentors will include Scott Titsworth, Dean of the Scripps College of Communication, Andi Walla, Instructor of Media Arts & Studies, and potentially other faculty interested in health communication.

  • Field-based photography and videography

  • Science communication (written and photographic/videography documentation)

  • Narrative and documentary creation

  • Health education

  • Communication development research

For more information visit this sub component page or medical students can contact:

Scott Titsworth at titswort@ohio.edu
Professor and Dean, Scripps College of Communication

Option 3: Humanitarian Service Learning in Ecuador, 5 weeks- June 17 to July 22, 2017

This Tier III five-week course (INST 4100) will take place in Ecuador and will introduce undergraduate students to the concept of global service-learning and community recovery in a post-earthquake zone. Students will learn about different models and philosophies of service-learning while contributing to disaster relief and community regeneration in communities afflicted by the April 2016 earthquake in Manabí province. The service-learning group will work collaboratively with Catholic University of Ecuador faculty and staff as well as members of local, community-based organizations on a community-identified, humanitarian service project in an under-resourced community in Manabí, Ecuador. Students will gain a greater understanding of the concept of resilient communities and explore what it means to be a global citizen while gaining an understanding of service-learning in an international context.

Disaster recovery activities: Students will learn about disaster recovery after a major disaster that impacted communities, infrastructure and local economies. Key for the recovery effort is the interaction between the communities and any external support (e.g., central government and international disaster response agencies). Students will obtain a better understanding of the challenges of disaster relief logistics that includes a set of sociotechnical activities such as storage, transportation and distribution of food and medical supplies.

Students who participate in this class must be admitted into the Tropical Disease Research Education Abroad Program and fulfill all requirements set forth by the OHIO Office of Education Abroad. In addition, the class is part of the Wealth and Poverty Theme from the College of Arts and Sciences and can be used to fulfill the overseas component of the Global Studies program from the Center of International Studies.

Course Learning Outcomes: After participating in this course, you will:

  • Be able to identify and differentiate service-learning models and philosophies

  • Be acquainted with the culture of Ecuador

  • Define the concept of global service-learning

  • Have contributed significantly to a humanitarian service project in an under-resourced community in Ecuador

  • Have identified transferable skills that apply to your major and discipline

  • Understand your role in global systems that affect local and international socioeconomic issues

  • Understand the concept of global citizenship

This class is part of the Global Service Learning Undergraduate Initiative, funded by the 1804 Fund and the Center for Campus and Community Engagement.

For information on the Humanitarian Service Learning component contact: Diana Marvel, Asst. Director, Center for Campus and Community Engagement marvel@ohio.edu, https://www.ohio.edu/communityengagement/  


Option 4: Laboratory Research at CISeAL - Variable May 6 to Aug 19 (Weekly Rate, Minimum 2 weeks) Visual Communication Practice

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 (CISeAL) prolong their stay in Quito. Participants will be able to process biological samples and data previously collected by researchers affiliated to 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, MA

  • Evaluation of social and biomedical program, led by Dr. Ana Lucia Moncayo.

CISeAL’s new 100.976 sq. ft. facility includes biosafety level 2 laboratories, an insectary, an animal facility, climate controlled experimental rooms, as well as a clinical research suite and a data management center. All of them will be available for students enrolling in this component according to their research backgrounds and interests. Learn more about CISeAL.

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

Option 1. Tropical disease research. (Two Weeks)

      X X    
Option 2. Tropical disease research. (Three Weeks)       X X X  
Option 3. Humanitarian Service Learning     X X X X X
Option 4. Laboratory Research* X X X X X X X


June 3 to June 9 June 10 to June 16 June 17 to June 23 June 24 to June 30

July 1 to July 7

July 8 to July 14

July 15 to July 21

 * Variable dates available, starting May 6 to August 19, 2017.



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 15 weeks. Weeks 4,5 and 6 activities will be conducted in Manabi, working at the disaster area.


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.


Option   Arrive Quito Depart Quito Group Duration Costs Costs Costs
    date date   in Days Undergraduate Graduate Medical
Option 1 Friday, June 24 Saturday, July 8 Tropical Disease Research (Option 2) 15 worksheet worksheet worksheet
Option 2 Friday, June 24 Monday, July 15 Tropical Disease Research (Option 3) 21
Option 3 Friday, June 17 Saturday. July 22 Humanitarian
Service Learning
Option 4* Variable Variable Laboratory Research 105


* Minimum 2 weeks at CISeAL


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  
HLTH 4930 Independent Studies 4 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  
HLTH 6930 Independent Studies 4 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. 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. Your Health Information Form will need to be filled out at this time as well.

    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: To finalize your acceptance, pay a $500.00 deposit by 4:30 PM on the due date specified in your acceptance letter by logging into your My OHIO Student Center, clicking on Make A Payment and then clicking on Global Opportunities Deposits.

    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.

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.

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.  Off-campus, non-OHIO and non-credit students can contact for the OHIO Office of Global Opportunities for additional instructions or help as needed.

Once accepted, participants will be required to complete additional paperwork in OGO, 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
Ohio University
College of Osteopathic Medicine
Irvine Hall, Athens, Ohio 45701
740-593-2530 740-597-2778 fax

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Last updated: 02/21/2017