A professor and alumna from the USF College of Public Health were among a handful of physicians chosen for an elite course at the Gorgas Memorial Institute this summer in Lima, Peru. Dr. Ricardo Izurieta, associate professor in the Department of Global Health, and Dr. Rosanna Ianiro, a Global Health MPH graduate, were among those picked for the annual course.
A stringent application and screening process yielded a field of 15 participants from more than 100 applicants worldwide. All applicants for the course must be MDs who specialize in tropical infectious diseases, Izurieta said.
“The experts course is a shorter course for training of specialists in the area of tropical and infectious diseases from all around the world,” Izurieta said. “In this training of experts, we had colleagues from the Centers for Disease Control of Japan, the Ministry of Public Health of Thailand and Mahidol University, one expert from the United Kingdom, a colleague from Australia, various colleagues from the United States and a colleague from Germany who works for our African command.”
In all, the 15 participants represented eight nations. Daily activities in the intensive course included lectures, case conferences, diagnostic laboratory, and ward rounds at the Tropical Medicine Institute and Hospital Nacional Cayetano Heredia in Lima. Participants also travelled to local and regional hospitals in the Andes and in the Amazon jungle.
“The training is actually very practical,” Izurieta said. “It is just to see real cases, clinical cases of tropical infectious diseases. It was a really wonderful experience and an opportunity to get a lot of material to teach my students here. I collected something like 80 cases with pictures, laboratory and clinical information that I’m going to use for teaching the course with my students.
“That’s a product of this experience,” he said, “that I can now transmit it to my students here in the United States, because these diseases are unique from the tropical areas, and not everybody’s able to go to the tropics to see these cases.”
Leprosy, various parasitic infections, HIV/AIDS, HTLV-1, malaria, dengue, leishmaniasis and a particularly drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis were among the observed cases, Izurieta and Ianiro said.
Now headquartered at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Gorgas Memorial Institute was founded in Panama in 1921 and named in honor of U.S. Army Gen. William Gorgas (1854-1920). Gorgas, who served as army surgeon general from 1914-18, was a pioneer of tropical medicine studies. His were among the earliest efforts to fight yellow fever and malaria in Panama during construction of the Panama Canal.
Izurieta earned his MD at the University of Ecuador in 1986. He began his affiliation with the Gorgas Institute while an MPH student in the 1990s at UAB, where he completed that degree in 1995 and added a PhD in public health in 2000. He was vice president for tropical and preventive medicine at the institute from 2003-07 and continues to serve on its board of directors.
Already an MD, Ianiro, who is a former student of Izurieta’s, worked for several years as a primary care physician in Costa Rica after earning her medical degree from Universidad Autónoma de Centro America.
“It was another kind of pleasure to have my former student sitting with me, side-by-side as my colleague,” Izurieta said. “Always we dream that our students at some point will go to conferences or meetings or trainings with us, that they will rise to our level and become our colleagues. So I was so happy and pleased that Dr. Rosanna Ianiro, who also did the diploma training three or four years ago, went back with me now for the expert training.”
Story by David Brothers, College of Public Health. Photos courtesy of the Gorgas Memorial Institute and Drs. Izurieta and Ianiro.