Founder, Dr. David Gaus

David Gaus, MD, MPH/TM
Founder and Executive Director of Andean Health & Development (AHD)

David Gaus, M.D, MPH/TM is the founder of AHD and has served as its executive director since 1994. Dr. Gaus grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and attended Notre Dame where he received an accounting degree in 1984. After a soul-searching conversation with then University President Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, Gaus traveled to Ecuador where he spent two years volunteering at an orphanage. There he witnessed the marginalization of a population of mostly women and children who lacked access to even basic health services.

The experience changed Gaus’s life forever. He returned to the United States where, with the assistance of Fr. Hesburgh and columnist Eppie Lederer (“Ann Landers”), Gaus re-enrolled at Notre Dame to complete his pre-med studies and then enrolled in Tulane Medical School.

In 1992, Gaus earned his medical degree and a master’s in Public Health and Tropical Medicine from Tulane. Following a residency at the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Gaus returned to Ecuador and soon discovered that rural hospital care was the country’s greatest need. In 1996, Dr. Gaus and Fr. Hesburgh started AHD to provide self-sustaining, comprehensive health care to the rural poor. Their pilot project was a hospital in the underserved community of Pedro Vicente Maldonado (PVM). The hospital opened in 2000, and by 2007, was 100% financially self-sustaining. Hospital PVM provides high quality secondary care to an extended community of 80,000. PVM is also a training ground for physicians, nurses, and other leaders in the local community.

Dr. Gaus’s current project, Hesburgh Hospital in Santo Domingo, Ecuador, continues to expand the reach of AHD. In Santo Domingo, AHD has built a training center that includes a simulation lab contextualized for rural Latin America and will serve as a headquarters for training the region’s public sector physicians. Hesburgh Hospital opened in June 2014 and serves a community of 600,000, of which a quarter live on less than $4/day. The hospital is expected to be financially self-sustaining within two years.

Dr. Gaus has published several academic journals and his work has appeared in magazines and newspaper articles. He lives in Ecuador with his wife Elizabeth. They have three bilingual, bicultural children.


  • Global Humanitarian Award by the American College of Radiology, 2017
  • Humanitarian Award by the American Academy of Family Physicians, 2016
  • Nathan Davis International Award in Medicine by the American Medical Association, 2014
  • Social Entrepreneur for Latin America by the World Economic Forum, 2010
  • Thomas A. Dooley Award by the University of Notre Dame, 1999

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Andean Health & Development
UW Department of Family Medicine
1100 Delaplaine Ct.
Madison, WI 53715
Email:  Phone: (619) 788-6833