Research ethics in Ethiopia

By Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD
College of Optometry

ImageI was hosted by Dr. Seleshe Nigatu of the University of Gondar as I opened the research ethics class in the Summer Institute with a discussion of the Tuskegee Study. The study is the U.S.’s 1978 Belmont Report with its basic principles of respect for persons, beneficence/nonmaleficence, and justice. The class of almost 60 people from the University of Gondar and Addis Ababa University, along with other Ethiopian institutions of higher learning, had expertise ranging across medicine, veterinary medicine, economics, and pharmacy. The photographs depict the engaged students. In the late afternoon, the participants tackled their first two case studies, one on Image

reporting of results to an industry sponsor and the other an accurate analysis of a case of subtle plagiarism but plagiarism nonetheless. Tomorrow, the class tackles animal care and use in research and biorepositories (thanks to Donna McCarthy and Mark Merrick and their lecture materials).


The transition from Addis Ababa to Gondar was ably assisted by advice from Dr. Jodi Ford from the College of Nursing, who taught research methods at the University of Gondar earlier in July.

One Health Summer Institute: Class is in session


Ohio State faculty arrive at Addis Ababa University’s Akaki campus. From left: Eric Sauvageau, MD, Andrew Shaw, MD, from the College of Medicine, Michael Bisesi, PhD, from the College of Public Health and Wondwossen Geybreyes, DVM, from the College of Veterinary Medicine.


Dr. Bisesi lectures at the Akaki campus.

A student walks through Addis Ababa University Akaki campus on July 8, 2013.

A student walks through Addis Ababa University’s Akaki campus.


Addis Ababa University students listen as Dr. Bisesi lectures.


Dr. Gebreyes teaching class.

2wondwossens class

Students listen during Dr. Gebreyes’ lecture on molecular epidemiology.

Photos by Rick Harrison, Ohio State University Communications

Dancing in Ethiopia

By Ally Sterman
Student, Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine

After a week of traveling around the Gondar region, our travels brought us to a city named Bahar Dar. Here is where the Nile River begins, Lake Tana (the largest lake in Ethiopia) is located, and the Blue Nile Falls are located. Our partners wanted to show us what a traditional Ethiopian dance club looked like, so after dinner we headed out on what would be one of the most memorable nights of my life.

We arrived at the club and there was a small stage with four musicians. They were playing a few traditional Ethiopian instruments and a few modern ones like the electric keyboard. The more traditional instruments included a kraar, which is five- or six-stringed bowl-shaped lyre. There was also a masenqo which is a one-stringed lyre. The instruments supported the vocalists who came out and sang a variety of songs.

Ally Ethiopia pic

However, the highlight of the evening was the dancing. One set of dancers were two brothers who we had seen dance before in Gondar. During one of their songs they grabbed Laura (another student working on the rabies project) and took her up on stage to dance. After another few songs, a different dancer came out. We had the chance to watch him for a short period of time before he danced over to where we sitting. He again grabbed Laura and tied her to him, and then grabbed my hand. The two of us were pulled on stage to dance in front of everyone. Another gentlemen from Israel was also grabbed and brought ally dancingon stage. Laura and I soon found ourselves being tied together to have a dance-off (pictured left). This style of dancing is not quite what my years of dance had prepared me for but I tried anyways. After a few minutes it was over and we headed back to join the rest of the group. Our partners were proud of us going up there, though it was clear our dancing skills left something to be desired and more practice is definitely necessary. This was one of my most embarrassing experiences yet here in Ethiopia, but also my most memorable.

Things I have not missed

By Timothy Landers, RN, PhD
Ohio State College of Nursing

I was on Skype with my Mom during our last week in Gondar. Back in Columbus, she was telling me about the new washer and dryer that arrived while I was in Ethiopia. The two were installed six inches apart. They are finding that this is just enough space for things to fall down and get lodged perfectly. It sounds like a hassle.

Then, they asked me what I thought it would feel like to go back home to Columbus.

I said I didn’t think I could go completely back home.

Of course, I have missed my wife and my sons Joey and Brian. I am looking forward to seeing my friends and sleeping in my own bed. I have missed our cat and dog.

But there are plenty of other things I have not missed. I have not missed how I let my day get off to a bad start because it took three extra minutes to park. I am not looking forward to returning home and obsessing about the invasive thistle plant messing up our lawn. I have not missed the conversations about washers and dryers in our air-conditioned homes that are six inches too far apart.

These things seem important to us – but I can see now, they are not.

I have no right to complain about a three minute parking spot hunt to the woman I saw in the asthma clinic who had wheezed and walked for three hours to get to her 9 a.m. appointment.

I promise not to complain about the thistle growing in my back yard. I’ve learned that because it grows so well in almost any condition, it is an ideal forage food for work animals in the Ethiopian mountains.

Finally, I pledge to think of my new friend and colleague, Charles Turner, who told me about mango fly larvae burrowing under the skin when clothes are hung out to dry.  I will think about his stories from his adventures teaching nurses all over Africa the next time I agonize over whether to pick “Whites – hot” or “permanent press – cold” on the washing machine. 

And if that fails, I’ve asked my friends to give me a good smack upside the head.

Or, I’ll think of my friends in Ethiopia.


By Timothy Landers, RN, PhD
Ohio State College of Nursing

One of the things that has been most impressive in my visit to Gondar is the respect for people and for relationships that is present in every interaction.  Every conversation begins with a greeting, ሰላም, “Selam!”  Followed by some greeting such as “how are you”, “how is your day going”, or “how are you feeling?”  Or more often, all three.

In a typical conversation, each person in the group is acknowledged and receives a handshake.  The president of the university greets the department chair, the student, and the housekeeper.

There is a nonverbal conversation among Ethiopian men – what we’ve come to call the “ah-ha.”  It is a brief gasp taken with force which is usually uttered when another is speaking.  It says, “I am listening, I am interested, I am here.”

When I arrive at my office in the morning, I make it a point to say hello to the co-workers I meet – something I picked up from an airline pilot who told me he ALWAYS greets his flight attendants and co-pilot first thing.

However, it’s not the same kind of recognition and appreciation for the other person that I have seen in our visit to Ethiopia.

In the past two weeks in Ethiopia with each “Selam,” “good morning,”  “how are you feeling?” and “how was your day?,” I’ve learned more about my co-workers than I could have in six months in Columbus.

But, I’d like to change.

When I leave Gondar, I am going to be more aware of how I greet those around me – everyone.  It’s worth the time to let them know that I am interested in how they are doing.  I am hoping to let them know that I value them and am interested in them.

How are you doing today?  How are you feeling?  Did you have a good night?

After that, I will unlock my door and get to work.

And there is lots of work to do.

Ohio State and Ethiopia: Building Collaborations

Here I am reviewing some class materials with students in the “Food Safety and Food Borne Diseases” course, as part of the Summer One Health Institute.

Here I am reviewing some class materials with students in the “Food Safety and Food Borne Diseases” course, as part of the Summer One Health Institute.

by Bayleyegn Molla, DVM, PhD
Clinical Assistant Professor and International Programs Coordinator
Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine

Our hope is to establish ongoing collaborative relationships–not just during the One Health Summer Institute, but well in to the future.  We hope to be able to build a mutually beneficial partnership between faculty and students at Ohio State and University of Gondar, which will help leverage expertise and open opportunities for all.

For participants from Ethiopia, this experience can bring the world-class knowledge and expertise of Ohio State to address important public health problems, though training and ongoing working relationships.  Partners at the University of Gondar bring a wealth of knowledge about local priorities and infrastructure.

Research and practice priorities are well organized in thematic areas with an emphasis on team-based research.

For faculty from Ohio State, this partnership offers the opportunity to explore and help develop solutions to tropical diseases, wildlife and environmental issues, and to apply new approaches in a different culture and region.  This opportunity helps expand the capabilities for students trained through the University of Gondar and faculty to use this knowledge to address important issues in Ohio, in our country, and throughout the world.

It is very rewarding to see this partnership in action in the One Health Summer Institute.  Students and faculty from nursing, public health, veterinary medicine, basic sciences, and human medicine have been discussing important problems such:

  • Food-borne illnesses
  • MRSA prevention
  • Cervical cancer
  • Zoonotic diseases

More importantly, these workshops explore potential ways to work together in the coming months and years.

The “One Health” framework is an excellent foundation on which to build this partnership, because it relies on contributions from a range of scientific experts and the active engagement of students in workshop sessions.

Being from Ethiopia originally, and now as a faculty member at Ohio State, it is tremendously rewarding to see the engagement of both universities in an effort to improve health.


The Ohio State University Health Science Colleges established the One Health Ethiopia Task Force in August 2012. Our goal is to develop a sustainable and mutually beneficial partnership with Ethiopian academic and affiliate partners, especially the University of Gondar and Addis Ababa University.

Because Ohio State has seven health science colleges on one campus, unlike any other American university, we are able to offer our Ethiopian partners unprecedented interdisciplinary collaboration that results in healthier, happier, more productive lives for Ethiopia’s citizens. The work we do is also intended to be replicated elsewhere, amplifying the impact of our collaboration.

This blog features the activities of our faculty and students involved in:

Our faculty and students are in Ethiopia to collaborate, educate, and inspire.

We hope you enjoy our offerings!