Where We Work

  • where we work map
  • Walking on the ranch
  • Honduras hike
  • Holy Family Surgery Center
  • Dr. Todd Tuttle with patient
  • Surgical procedure in Honduras
  • Moscati Center
  • Honduras hammocks


Physicians from the University of Minnesota have been providing clinical care at the Holy Family Surgery Center (HFSC) in Honduras since 2012. Twice annually, weeklong medical brigades of surgeons, anesthesiologists, residents, and medical students have the opportunity to directly engage all four objectives of academic global surgery.

Medical brigades from the University of Minnesota typically travel to Honduras once during both the fall and spring semesters. Group sizes vary based on interest and availability, but they typically range from 10-30 people and often include physicians and medical professionals from other parts of the United States.

During these week-long missions, volunteers work alongside the HFSC staff to provide clinical care and surgeries to patients. Brigades are housed in the Moscati Center, One World Surgery’s visitor accommodations and conference center, which is a 10-minute walk from HFSC. In addition to the clinical opportunities, volunteers are also able to tour NPH, play with the children, hike the 2,000-acre property, relax in the hammock-lined courtyard outside of your room – even sing karaoke.

Brigades offer surgeons, residents, and medical students the important opportunity to fully engage with academic global surgery while providing life-changing surgical care to an underserved and under-resourced population.

  • Clinical Care
  • Capacity-Building
  • Education
  • Research
  • Clinical Care

    The Holy Family Surgery Center (HFSC) is a modern medical facility that exists in large part because of the generosity of Dr. Peter Daly and his wife, Lulu – of Saint Paul, Minnesota. It sits on the property of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, a 2,000-acre children’s home outside of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. When the center opened in 2008, it only operated for a few weeks each year and was limited to orthopedic and general surgery brigades. In 2017, HFSC partnered with Surgical Centers of America to create an international non-profit organization: One World Surgery.

  • Capacity-Building

    Holy Family Surgery Center provides patient consults and surgeries year-round under the leadership of Medical Director Dr. Merlin Antúnez, a Honduran orthopedic surgeon who grew up in the children’s home. The center has three operating rooms, seven clinic/overnight bays, a dental clinic, an eye clinic, and more than 30 full-time staff. Specialists in urology, orthopedic surgery, general surgery, gynecology, anesthesiology, surgical oncology, otolaryngology, dermatology, and ophthalmology currently provide clinical care at this site.

    To date, the Goodhue and Scheffler Scholarships have enabled more than 40 residents and medical students from the University of Minnesota to directly engage the unique educational and training opportunities that our partnership with HFSC and One World Surgery offers.

  • Education

    In the United States, breast cancer is usually curable; in Honduras, it is usually fatal. This discrepancy is due in large part to late detection and delays in treatment. Breast cancer is currently the most common cause of cancer death among women in Honduras.

    In February 2020, the University of Minnesota partnered with One World Surgery to host a multidisciplinary conference focused on breast cancer early detection and treatment in Honduras. The goals of this event were twofold: 1) to provide educational opportunities for physicians in Honduras; and 2) to create a forum for clinicians, educators, support groups, and businesses to start a nationwide effort to improve the outcomes of breast cancer in Honduras. The conference featured presentations by speakers from the University of Minnesota and Honduras.

  • Research

    Researchers from the University of Minnesota and Honduras are working together to identify obstacles to early breast cancer detection and to understand the genetic mutations of breast cancer in Central America. Ongoing projects focus on evaluating germane mutations in breast cancer patients – including BRCA1/2 in Honduran women with breast cancer – and understanding signaling pathways of breast cancer in Honduras. The latter is a joint effort with the University of Minnesota’s genomics lab.


Cancer risks associated with the use of smokeless tobacco (SLT) products worldwide vary drastically. There is a critical need to better understand SLT carcinogenesis, and which chemical constituents and/or product characteristics drive the risk of cancer development in SLT users. India has a unique tobacco burden profile and represents both an area of critical need and unique setting for such studies. Nearly one third of the population in India is using various forms of SLT, exceeding the prevalence of smoking. This is accompanied by high rates of oral and head and neck cancer (OHNC), which is strongly associated with SLT use and is a leading cause of cancer-related death in India. Our work addresses the tobacco burden and tobacco research capacity in India, where the widespread smokeless tobacco (SLT) use results in significant morbidity and mortality. The goal of our work is to investigate the relationship between carcinogen content in SLT products and relevant exposures and oral/head and neck cancer risk in users of these products, while concurrently building capacity for a sustainable tobacco carcinogenesis research program in India. The study is being conducted in collaboration with the Tata Memorial Centre and the Healis-Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health in Mumbai.

The goal of our research is to investigate the relationship between carcinogen content in SLT products and relevant exposures as well as OHNC risk in users of these products, while concurrently building capacity for a sustainable tobacco carcinogenesis research program in India. We will focus on the tobacco-specific nitrosamines N'-nitrosonornicotine (NNN) and 4- (methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK). Our first aim is to determine the variation of NNN and NNK in SLT products currently available in Mumbai including a wide range of both manufactured and cottage-made products. Our second aim examines the relationship between NNN and NNK levels in SLT products and the levels of corresponding biomarkers in users of these products. In this aim, we will assess biomarkers of exposure in 300 users of SLT products with differing NNN and NNK content, as established in Aim 1. In our third aim, we are comparing levels of urinary NNN and NNK biomarkers between SLT users with and without OHNC. Together, these studies we will generate important insights into the role of NNN and NNK in SLT carcinogenesis in India. While substantial work has been carried out by the Indian public health research and advocacy community to generate valuable knowledge on SLT use, perceptions, and epidemiology, biomarker-based studies of tobacco carcinogen exposure and cancer risk have never been conducted in India. Our research team is uniquely positioned to initiate this research, as it will leverage our collaborative partnership with clinicians and scientists at Tata Memorial Hospital and its affiliated Advanced Center for Training, Research and Education in Cancer in Mumbai. In addition to generating novel scientific data, this study will incorporate capacity building activities that are closely linked to the Specific Aims and include the development of analytical laboratory capacity, training of young investigators from Mumbai in tobacco research procedures, and establishment of tobacco product and biospecimen repositories for future research.


gs rawandaEstablished in 2012, the Rwanda Human Resources for Health (HRH) is a collaborative initiative between US academic institutions and Rwanda (University of Rwanda) to build a strong, independent health care delivery system based on the training of next generation health care providers in Rwanda. Starting in 2013, the University of Minnesota joined forces with the Rwanda HRH in the Department of Surgery and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology to support medical student, resident, and faculty education. As a product of the Rwanda HRH work, the total number of obstetrics/gynecologist and surgeons has grown exponentially and the number of hospitals with highly trained medical staff has increased. The surgical residency program has expanded from a general surgery training program to include specialist training in orthopedics, neurosurgery, and urology.

Dr. Rahel Ghebre (Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Minnesota) served as in-country teaching faculty in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Rwanda transferring skills in advanced gynecology surgery and gynecologist oncology. Dr. Ghebre also collaborated on research and the development of educational material with University of Rwanda faculty. Outputs of research include increasing knowledge and awareness of cervical cancer screening and diagnosis (see publication list below). In the next phase of Rwanda HRH, Dr. Ghebre is partnering on specialist training for gynecologic oncology.

Dr. Jennifer Rickard (Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery, Division of Critical Care/Acute Care Surgery, University of Minnesota) is an active teaching faculty in the Department of Surgery at the University of Rwanda. Dr. Rickard has ongoing educational and clinical research in acute surgery and surgical site infections.

In addition to strengthening clinical training, research capacity within Rwanda is continually growing as local researchers are stimulated to understand local disease processes and management opportunities. University of Minnesota residents and students have the opportunity to engage in both clinical and research activities in Rwanda.


Dr. Rahel Ghebre Publications

  1. Small M, Magriples U, Ghebre R, Bazzett-Matabele L, Nitrushwa D, Kitessa D, Ntasumbumuyange D, Lantos P, Hill W, Bagambe P, Brown H, Rulisa S. Increased Nation-wide Access to OB/GYNs through a US-Rwanda Training Partnership. Obstetrics & Gynecology. Obstet Gynecol. 2019 Jun 11. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 31188322

  2. Rwabizi D, Bazzett-Matabele L, Ghebre R, Stephen R, Dtasumumuyange D, Nitrushwa D, Nkubito V, Small M. The "Honeycomb Sign": Gestational Trophoblastic Disease Case Series from the largest Tertiary Center in Rwanda. Int J Preg & Chi Birth. 2019 March; 5(2): 45-46. DOI: 10.15406.
  3. Martin AN, Kaneza KM, Kalkarni A, Mugenzi P, Ghebre R, Nitrushwa D, Ilbawi AM, Pace LE, Costas-Chavarri A. Cancer Control at the District Hospital Level in sub-Saharan Africa—an Educational and Resource Needs Assessment of General Practitioners? Journal of Global Oncology. 2019 Jan; 5: 1-8. PMID 30668270

  4. Ghebre RG, Grover S, Xu MJ, Chuang LT, Simonds H. Cervical Cancer Control in HIV-infected Women: Past, Present and Future. Gynecologic Oncology Reports. 2017 Jul 21; 21:101-8. PMID: 28819634.

  5. Ruzigana G, Bazzet-Matabele L, Rulisa S, Martin AN, Ghebre RG. “Cervical Cancer Screening at a Tertiary Care Center in Rwanda.” Gynecologic Oncology Report. 2017 May 26; 21: 13-16. PMID: 28616457

  6. Randall TC, Ghebre R. Challenges in prevention and care delivery for women with cervical cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa. Frontiers in Oncology. 2016 Jun 28; 6:160. PMID: 27446806

  7. Randall TC, Goodman AK, Schmeler K, Durfee J, Pareja R, Munkarah A, Rulisa S, Ghebre R, Trimble EL, Chuang L. Cancer and the world’s poor: What’s a gynecologic cancer specialist to do? Gynecologic Oncology. 2016 Jul; 142(1):6-8. PMID: 27210817

  8. Nzayisenga I, Segal R, Pritchett N, Xu M J, Park PH, Mpanumusingo VE, Umuhizi DG, Goldstein DP, Berkowitz RS, Hategekimana V, Muhayimana C, Rubagumya F, Fadelu T, Tapela N, Mpunga T, Ghebre RG. Gestational Trophoblastic Neoplasia at the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence in Rwanda. Journal of Global Oncology. 2016, 2(6), 365-374. PMID: 28717722

Dr. Jennifer Rickard Publications

  1. Skube ME, Alexander BH, Beilman GJ, and Tuttle TM. Impact of patients’ primary language on stage of cancer at diagnosis. Minnesota Medicine 2019.

  2. Bunogerane GJ*, Rickard J. A Cross Sectional Survey of Factors Influencing Mortality in Rwandan Surgical Patients in the Intensive care unit. Surgery. Accepted for publication.

  3. Mpirimbanyi C, Abahuje E, Hirwa AD, Gasakure M*, Rwagahirima E*, Niyinzima C*, Hakizimana AN*, Ishimwe E*, Ntirenganya F, Rickard J. Defining the Three Delays in Referral of Surgical Emergencies from District Hospitals to University Teaching Hospital of Kigali, Rwanda. 2019. World J Surg. Accepted for publication.

  4. Mutabazi E*, Bonane A, Ndibanje AJ, Rickard J. Epidemiological study of peritonitis among children and factors predicting mortality at a tertiary referral hospital in Rwanda. East Cent Afr J Surg. Accepted for publication.

  5. Christie SA, Nwomeh BC, Krishnaswami S, Yang GP, Holterman AL, Charles A, Jayaraman S, Jawa RS, Rickard J, Swaroop M, Sifri ZC, Etoundi Mballa GA, Monono ME, Chichom Mefire A, Juillard C. Strengthening Surgery Strengthens Health Systems: A New Paradigm and Potential Pathway for Horizontal Development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. World J Surg. 2019 Feb 26. doi: 10.1007/s00268-019-04958-4. [Epub ahead of print]

  6. Rickard J, Onwuka E, Joseph S, Ozgediz D, Krishnaswami S, Oyetunji TA, Sharma J, Ginwalla RF, Nwomeh BC, Jayaraman S; Academic Global Surgery Taskforce. Value of Global Surgical Activities for US Academic Health Centers: A Position Paper by the Association for Academic Surgery Global Affairs Committee, Society of University Surgeons Committee on Global Academic Surgery, and American College of Surgeons' Operation Giving Back. J Am Coll Surg. 2018 Oct;227(4):455-466.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2018.07.661. Epub 2018 Aug 20.

  7. Rickard J, Ntirenganya F, Ntakiyiruta G, Chu K. Global Health in the 21st Century: Equity in Surgical Training Partnerships. J Surg Educ. 2018 Aug 6. pii: S1931-7204(18)30160-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2018.07.010.

  8. Mpirimbanyi C*, Rickard J, Furaha C, Ntirenganya F, Necrotizing soft tissue infections at a tertiary referral hospital in Rwanda: epidemiology and risk factors for mortality. World J Surg. 2018 Aug;42(8):2314-2320. doi: 10.1007/s00268-018-4515-z.

  9. Rickard JL, Ngarambe C*, Ndayizeye L*, Smart B*, Majyambere JP, Riviello R. Risk of catastrophic health expenditure in Rwandan surgical patients with peritonitis. World J Surg. 2018 Jun;42(6):1603-1609. doi: 10.1007/s00268-017-4368-x.

  10. Rickard, J, Ngarambe C*, Ndayizeye L*, Smart B*, Riviello R, Majyambere JP, Ghebre RG. Antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance of surgical patients with peritonitis at a tertiary referral hospital in Rwanda. Surg Infect. 2018 May/Jun;19(4):382-387.

  11. Rickard J, Ngarambe C*, Ndayizeye L*, Smart B*, Riviello R, Majyambere JP. Critical care management of peritonitis in a low-resource setting. World J Surg. 2018 Oct;42(10):3075-3080. doi: 10.1007/s00268-018-4598-6.

  12. Saluja S, Nwomeh B, Finlayson SRG, Holterman AL, Jawa RS, Jayaraman S, Juillard C, Krishnaswami S, Mukhopadhyay S, Rickard J, Weiser TG, Yang GP, Shrime MG; Society of University Surgeons Global Academic Surgery Committee. Guide to research in academic global surgery: A statement of the Society of University Surgeons Global Academic Surgery Committee. Surgery. 2018 Feb;163(2):463-466. doi: 10.1016/j.surg.2017.10.013. Epub 2017 Dec 6.

  13. Ngarambe C*, Smart BJ*, Nagarajan N, Rickard J. Validation of the surgical apgar score after laparotomy at a tertiary referral hospital in Rwanda.World J Surg. 2017 Jul;41(7):1734-1742.

  14. Yi S*, Rickard J. Specialization in acute care surgery in low-income and middle-income countries. Trauma Surg Acute Care Open. 2017 May 22;2(1):e000095.

  15. Abahuge E*, Nzeyimana I*, Rickard JL. Introducing a morbidity and mortality conference in Rwanda. J Surg Educ. 2017 Jul-Aug;74(4):621-629. Epub 2017 Feb 7.

  16. Ndayizeye L*, Ngarambe C*, Smart B*, Riviello R, Majyambere JP, Rickard J. Peritonitis in Rwanda: Epidemiology and risk factors for morbidity and mortality. Surgery. 2016 Dec;160(6):1645-1656. Epub 2016 Oct 4.

  17. Rickard J, Ntirenganya F, Kyamanywa P, Ntakiyiruta G. Utilizing the American Board of Surgery In-Training Exam in a Rwandan surgical residency program: alignment of exam topics with the University of Rwanda general surgery curriculum. East Cent Afr J Surg. 2016;21(1): 24-352016.

  18. Rickard J, Ssebuufu R, Kyamanywa P, Ntakiyiruta G. Scaling up a surgical residency program in Rwanda. East Cent Afr J Surg. 2016;21(1):11-23.


rwandaSurgeons from the UMSGD program are partnering in two areas in Kampala. We have a long-running series of USAID and NIH-funded grants evaluating the lymphatic system in clearance of viral and other infections. We partner with Infectious Disease experts at the University of Minnesota and the NIH to evaluate lymph node trafficking in East African subjects. Additionally, we have a growing relationship with Makarere University Department of Surgery and the Ruth Gaylord Hospital to grow surgical capacity in Uganda. Our efforts include surgical camps at the Ruth Gaylord hospital, student and resident rotations at Mulago Hospital, and resident exchanges between surgical trainees at the University of Minnesota and Makarere University. This work includes collaborative research efforts with Makarere University.

Children’s Surgery International

global surgeryDr. Brianne Barnett Roby is a Pediatric Otolaryngologist at the University of Minnesota Department of Otolaryngology. She serves on the Board of Directors for Children’s Surgery International (CSI) which is a Minnesota-based, nonprofit volunteer organization that provides specialized medical and surgical services to children and professional training to in-country partners around the world.  The vision of CSI is a world where communities have access to the needed skills, tools, and knowledge to provide essential and life-changing surgical and medical care to their children. Dr. Roby trains local surgeons in partner countries to provide cleft lip and palate repair.

Volunteers for CSI provide life-changing surgeries, in-country education and medical supplies for children, their families and medical professionals in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Liberia, Mexico, Peru, Tanzania and Vietnam. The goal is sustainability. CSI partners with host communities to provide professional training, education and support to surgeons, nurses and other caregivers so they can perform the procedures independently and eventually no longer require services from surgeons from high-income countries. In-county education includes intensive hands-on training for local surgeons and nurses.

To learn more about their work, the upcoming trips, and possible volunteer opportunities, visit the CSI website at www.childrenssurgeryintl.org or contact the office at 612.746.4082 or info@childrenssurgeryintl.org.

South Dakota – Native American Population

The UMSGD Program is partnering with tribal and Indian Health Service leaders at the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota to enhance surgical capabilities at this hospital. Additionally, the University of Minnesota is developing an elective general surgery rotation at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, NM to provide unique training opportunities in Native American health care. Investigators from the University of Minnesota are also studying surgical disparities among Native American/Alaska Native women with breast cancer and investigating genomic characteristics of breast cancer in this population.


  1. Debas H, Alatise OI, Balch CM, Brennan M, Cusack J, Donkor P, Jaffe BM, Mazariegos GV, Mock C, Mutiibwa D, Numann P, Nyagatuba JKM, O'Neill JA Jr, Tarpley JL, Tesfaye S, Tefera G, Tuttle TM. Academic Partnerships in Global Surgery: An Overview American Surgical Association Working Group on Academic Global Surgery. Ann Surg. 2019 Oct 4

  2. Mock C, Debas H, Balch CM, Brennan M, Buyske J, Cusack J, DeMeester S, Herndon D, Le Holterman AX, Jaffe B, Kandil E, Kauffman G, Mazariegos G, Merchant N, Numann P, Oleynikov D, Olutoye O, O'Neill J, Shackford S, Stock P, Tarpley JL, Tuttle T, Wolf S, Wren SM, Yang GP. Global Surgery: Effective Involvement of US Academic Surgery: Report of the American Surgical Association Working Group on Global Surgery. Ann Surg. 2018 Jul 12

  3. Debas H, Alatise OI, Balch CM, Brennan M, Cusack J, Donkor P, Jaffe BM, Mazariegos GV, Mock C, Mutiibwa D, Numann P, Nyagatuba JKM, O'Neill JA Jr, Tarpley JL, Tesfaye S, Tefera G, Tuttle TM. Academic Partnerships in Global Surgery: An Overview American Surgical Association Working Group on Academic Global Surgery. Ann Surg. 2019 Oct 4