U.S. General William Crawford Gorgas, a tropical medicine pioneer and native Alabamian, is credited with the elimination of yellow fever and malaria that allowed the Panama Canal to be built. For over 60 years, until the loss of congressional funding in 1990, the Gorgas Memorial Institute (GMI) based in Washington, DC operated the Gorgas Laboratories in Panama.
The GMI was incorporated to UAB in 1992 in order to carry on its tradition of research, service and training. At its 1995 Board of Directors meeting the GMI approved resumption of its educational mission initially started in Panama by establishing the Gorgas Course in Clinical Tropical Medicine as a clinical training initiative to be held in English in the tropics. The course was launched as a collaborative partnership between the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Alexander von Humboldt Tropical Medicine Institute from the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia with the purpose of filling an educational gap for the international medical community seeking for an intensive experience in tropical medicine with a focus in clinical activities and substantial exposure to real patients.
Over the years two courses have been established, The Gorgas Diploma Course in Clinical Tropical Medicine and The Gorgas Advanced Course in Clinical Tropical Medicine. After more than two decades of uninterrupted activity the Gorgas Courses have trained more than 800 participants. Faculty teaching in the course attend yearly from the following institutions worldwide: Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp, Imperial College London, J.D. MacLean Centre for Tropical Diseases at McGill University, University of Oxford, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Texas Medical Branch, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the US Navy Medical Research Center Detachment -Peru .
The Gorgas Courses in Clinical Tropical Medicine are held at the Alexander von Humboldt Tropical Medicine Institute in Lima, Peru; located right next to the Tropical Diseases Unit of the Cayetano Heredia Hospital, the major tropical diseases referral center for Peru. The diverse geography of the country provides the participants with the unparalleled opportunity of a first-hand exposure to the unique wide spectrum of tropical diseases that concentrate in this facility including: anthrax, bartonellosis, brucellosis, chancroid, cholera, leptospirosis, leprosy, HTLV-1, HIV, viral hepatitis, oropouche virus, yellow fever, rabies, malaria, leishmaniasis, Chagas’ disease, cyclosporiasis, strongyloidiasis, cysticercosis, echinococcosis, paragonimiasis, diphyllobothriasis, fasciolasis, histoplasmosis, sporotrichosis, paracoccidioidomycosis, chromomycosis and accidents with poisonous animals.
The Gorgas alumni network extends over more than 80 countries around the world. Many of our former students hold key leadership positions in the medical field and work in resource limited settings and apply the experience gained where it is needed the most.