Skip to main content
outline map highlighting nicaragua

A unique two-university partnership

Our relationship with the University of Nicaragua, León, or UNAN, grew through a series of service and teaching initiatives. The largest public medical school and university hospital in Nicaragua,UNAN has a core of PhD-trained faculty and a standard of world-class research among its faculty.

Eight active research projects are underway at UNC Project-Nicaragua. The portfolio of research initiatives during the past five years has focused on understanding the clinical spectrum of Zika infection and epidemiology, gastrointestinal disease epidemiology and pediatric immunizations, including studies of childhood diarrhea and rotavirus vaccine effectiveness, and evaluation of Nicaragua’s national pneumonia immunization program. Findings from UNC-UNAN studies have been presented widely and have led to changes in clinical care guidelines.


UNC medical students and residents have performed clinical electives at the University Hospital and outlying public clinics, enrolled in medical Spanish programs in León, and have contributed to existing research projects with one-on-one mentorship. In 2018, a D43 Capacity Building Grant entitled “The Nicaraguan Emerging and Endemic Diseases (NEED) Training Program” was funded by the NIH to provide PhD training in epidemiology at UNC and to develop a new PhD program in microbiology at UNAN-León.


UNC cardiologists Michael Yeung, MD, and Carlos Espinoza, MD, lead trips twice a year to Nicaragua, working in partnership with Project Health for Léon. They perform lifesaving valvular heart repairs, the first to be offered in Nicaragua,

Operation Smile is a UNC student group started by dental student Ryan Cody. In March 2018, the group traveled to Nicaragua and worked with international partners to provide needed multi-disciplinary dental care to 228 patients.

Stories from UNC Project-Nicaragua

  • LB-Lester-Guiterrez-Mentor-giardia-paper

    UNC Program in Nicaragua–Where Learning is Reciprocal

    A two-hour flight from Miami to Nicaragua takes UNC students to the closest of all IGHID country sites, a land of lakes and volcanoes, scenic coastlines and highlands. Minutes from central León, UNC Program in Nicaragua operates through the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua León (UNAN-León) and its Center for Infectious Disease Research. Here, UNC … Read more

  • students work in lab in white coats

    Partnership with Nicaragua expands with addition of PhD program

    UNC has expanded its partnership with the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua-León, or UNAN, which since 2003 has encompassed the exchange of research, faculty, and clinical learners, to now include the development of a PhD program housed at UNAN. The program, which offers a PhD in biomedical sciences with mention in infectious diseases, aims to … Read more