About the International Foundation
USF Health - Office of International Programs

In its search for academic excellence and innovative research and educational models, USF Health has found a marvelous opportunity in Panama, Central America , for our international and global initiatives.  Our efforts lead to the opening of a representative office in that country, the USF Health International Foundation.

Arlene Calvo, Faculty member
Aracely Quintero, Director

The Foundation is located in the City of Knowledge , an international complex of organizations for education, research and innovation.  It hosts the Regional UN House, International Red Cross Federation offices, PAHO Disaster Management offices, and Peace Corps offices, and many other regional headquarters.

Through its Panama Office, USF Health is leading in health research and academic entrepreneurship, maintaining its collaboration with The City of Knowledge Foundation, Gorgas Memorial Research Institute, University of Panama, and Universidad Latina among many other Panamanian and international organizations and agencies.

Among the activities facilitated through the USF Health Office in Panama you can find the following:

  • International Conferences and workshops on site and through distance education 
  • Academic courses and capacity building training programs as well as Spanish immersion courses 
  • Study abroad programs for students in a variety of topical areas
  • International Field Experience placements for students.  Students have an opportunity to work with local and international organizations with family home stays 
  • Practice programs for Executive Public Health Students
  • Research projects in a variety of areas in collaboration with local and regional institutions: 


The mission of the USF Health International Foundation is to increase collaboration in education, research and patient care between USF faculty and students and Panama , and other health professionals and organizations throughout Latin America .

Overlooking the Panama Canal, the USF Health International Foundation is located on the old Fort Clayton , built by the U.S. military to protect the Canal’s strategic Miraflores Locks, which guard the Canal’s access to the Pacific Ocean . Fort Clayton is known today as “Ciudad del Saber”, or City of Knowledge . The re-purposed fort serves as a hub to a growing number of international organizations with the International Foundation being the only health sciences academic center in the City of Knowledge . Among the Foundation’s neighbors are the International Red Cross, Organization of American States, Nature Conservancy, the Spanish Embassy and UNESCO.

Creating greater access to continuing professional education, the International Foundation’s programs will have a far reaching effect across the Americas . Continuing professional education will be within reach of more health professionals in private, public and non-profit health sectors than ever before through the Foundation’s courses, conferences, leadership development programs and other approaches.

A Brief History

Since its discovery in 1501, the Panamanian isthmus has been a cultural encounter point, given its strategic geographical position and its tradition of international services. Panama has also provided tremendous influence on international public health research efforts. During the construction of the Panama Canal, infectious diseases killed many workers and were a major barrier to progress on the canal’s construction.

Upon completion of the canal’s construction, the primary U.S. goal was to control the spread of infectious diseases in the area. Dr. William Gorgas, a U.S. Army Colonel who later became U.S. Surgeon General, was appointed to lead this effort.

The Gorgas Memorial Research Institute in Panama, a USF Panama partner, stands as a renowned institution for international public health research. Notably, USF houses the Gorgas Memorial Institute partly in the United States, underscoring this as a formal and comprehensive collaboration.

Panama is politically stable, and it offers additional international public health influence including, international cervical cancer studies involving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute. Panama is becoming an important regional clinical trial center for pharmaceutical companies due to the robust health care infrastructure and international researchers housed within the City of Knowledge.