India: Applied Research in Urban and Rural Health


This program will not be offered in 2017.

Description from 2016 Program

Location: Bangalore and Mugalur, India

Faculty: Benjamin Capistrant, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota 
Preceptors: Arvind Kasthuri, St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences  | Bangalore, India

2016 Dates: July 11 to August 5, 2016

This four-week program will introduce students to the social determinants of health that drive individuals’ health and health care system responses in India. Students will participate in small group learning, a shadowed research experience with close mentorship, and experience health systems in rural and urban settings.

The first two weeks of the program will be spent on St. John’s main campus in Bangalore with formal introductions to concepts of social determinants of health as they pertain to health and health care in India. This portion of the experience will also involve hands-on work with a researcher or clinical team (matched in advance based on availability and UMN participants’ interests and skills). Participants will develop a better understanding of a specific topic – e.g., social factors, disease prevalence, health systems structure – related to public health in India. Potential topics for mentored research may include:

  • Non-communicable disease trends: prevalence and distribution of cardiovascular disease
  • Community health worker interventions for health behavior risk reduction
  • Social determinants of healthy aging
  • Environmental and occupational health assessments
  • Clinical research: health care delivery and hospital administration

In the second two weeks, UMN participants will learn alongside fourth year medical students from St John’s. They will spend one week at St. John’s rural health centre in Mugalur and one week visiting non-governmental organizations that provide health care in urban Bangalore. Students will expand their understanding of the specific topic they identified in the first two weeks by witnessing patients’ and families’ interactions with the health system in both urban and more rural settings. The final day, participants will present lessons learned on their particular focus area from the four week session.


University of Minnesota Faculty have co-developed this opportunity and will provide pre-departure guidance and orientation as well as facilitate the post-experience debrief. While in India, the program will be overseen by Dr. Arvind Kasthuri, Professor of Community Medicine, St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences in Bangalore. Students will be matched in advance with a St. John's faculty member based on mutual interest.


Students may be allowed to apply this program to a variety of academic requirements and should confer with their academic advisor to determine if it meets their specific requirements. Options may include:

  • School of Public Health: Field Experience Credit
  • Medical Students: If traveling during years 3 and 4, this experience is eligible for GMER credit. If traveling between years 1 and 2, participation would be considered a summer opportunity during your break. See the GMER website for more information.


Open to all graduate and professional students (post baccalaureate). Proficiency in the local language (Kannada) or the national language (Hindi) is not required.

Location and housing

Participants will be based at St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences in Bangalore. Dormitory style housing will be on St. John’s campus, including one week at St. John’s rural health centre in Mugalur.

St John’s National Academy of Health sciences is a 52-year old Catholic mission institution comprising a medical college, a college of nursing, a 1300-bed hospital, and a research institute within the campus located in the city of Bangalore, India. The institution aims at excellence in training health care professionals and in designing and implementing quality research through the unique St John’s Research Institute (SJRI). The Department of Community Health, St John’s Medical College (DoCH) is one of the academic wings of the institution. The DoCH is involved in imparting quality education in Community Medicine and in delivering outreach services mostly through the Mugalur community health and training centre (the rural centre) located in a village 30 km from St John’s Medical College.  


2016 Program Fee: $1,300 (Includes instruction, accommodation, some meals, and insurance.)

Additional Costs: Can range from $2,400 to $3,800 plus tuition. For planning purposes, costs are estimated as follows:

  • Airfare to/from Bangalore - $1,800 to $2,400 (hopefully on the lower end; depends on choices and market price).  We will advise on flight, but participants are responsible for making their own arrangements.
  • Academic Credit - Depends on school/college
  • Transportation between airport and St. John's - $40
  • Passport/Photos - $150
  • Visa/Required Documents – $115 to $240
  • Required Immunizations - $225
  • Texts/Materials - $0
  • Meals not included in program fee - breakfasts and all weekend meals during week 1, 2, and 4 -  $140
  • Essential Daily Living Expenses - $240
  • Spending money and Personal travel - Depends

Other requirements

The following are required of participating students:

  • Attend pre-travel orientation sessions: April 16 and June 14, 4-6pm
  • Complete reading assignments.
  • Attend all lectures, pre-/post-site visit briefings, debriefs, and field visits.
  • Participate in class discussion and interactive exercises for all observation sites.
  • Submit written reflections at the completion of each topic
  • Complete individual presentations during program. Detailed guidelines will be provided.
  • Create an individual poster presentation (may be reflective, topical, or research/practice-focused) based on your experience or research project.  Poster will be presented at the course debrief session and is to be submitted to the University of Minnesota Global Health Day in Fall 2016.
  • Attend a group debrief session during Fall semester 2016.

Application process

The application deadline has passed.  However, if you are interested in applying, email Amy Scheller at sche0526 at  The 2016 application process is as follows:

  1. Email indicating your intent to apply.
  2. Confer with your academic and/or program advisor to determine if this program meets your requirements.
  3. Complete the Application Form and email to
  4. Interview with program faculty will be scheduled.
  5. Notification of acceptance.


Contact with questions.

Learn more

This video describes the Mugalur Community Health Centre and its activities.  

This video describes a typical day at the geriatric clinic in the Rural Elderly Health Program and gives a good impression of the surrounding areas. 

Go SafeProgram health and safety information is available at GO SAFE.